How To Format Hard Drive On A Mac

When it comes to managing your computer’s storage, formatting your hard drive is a necessary task. Whether you want to erase all data on your disk or need to prepare it for a new operating system installation, formatting can help you achieve your goal. In this blog post, we will show you how to format hard drive on a Mac, step by step.

Step 1: Back Up Your Data

Before you start the formatting process, make sure to back up all your data. Formatting a hard drive will erase everything on it, including your personal files, documents, photos, and videos. You can use external hard drives, cloud storage, or Time Machine backup to save your data. Once you have backed up your data, you can proceed with the formatting process.

Step 2: Open Disk Utility

Disk Utility is a built-in app on your Mac that allows you to manage your disks, partitions, and volumes. To open Disk Utility, go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

Step 3: Select Your Hard Drive

In Disk Utility, you will see a list of all your connected disks, including internal and external hard drives, SSDs, and USB flash drives. Select the hard drive you want to format by clicking on it.

Step 4: Erase Your Hard Drive

Once you have selected your hard drive, click on the Erase button on the top toolbar. A new window will appear, where you can choose the format type, scheme, and name for your hard drive.

Format Types

There are several format types you can choose from, depending on your needs:

  • APFS (Apple File System): recommended for macOS High Sierra or later
  • Mac OS Extended (Journaled): recommended for macOS Sierra or earlier
  • MS-DOS (FAT): recommended for Windows compatibility
  • ExFAT: recommended for large files (>4GB) and cross-platform compatibility


The scheme option determines the partition map for your hard drive, which defines the way your data is stored and organized. You can choose between:

  • GUID Partition Map: recommended for Intel-based Macs
  • Master Boot Record: recommended for PowerPC-based Macs and Windows compatibility
  • Apple Partition Map: recommended for legacy Macs


You can name your hard drive anything you like, as long as it meets the requirements for file naming on macOS.

Step 5: Confirm Your Settings

Once you have selected your format type, scheme, and name, double-check your settings and click on the Erase button. A warning message will appear, informing you that all data on your hard drive will be erased. Click on Erase again to confirm.

Step 6: Wait for the Formatting Process to Complete

The formatting process may take a few minutes, depending on the size and speed of your hard drive. Once the process is complete, your hard drive will be ready for use.


Q: Will formatting my hard drive erase my operating system?

A: Yes, formatting your hard drive will erase everything on it, including your operating system. You will need to reinstall your operating system after formatting.

Q: Can I format my hard drive without Disk Utility?

A: Yes, you can use third-party apps like CleanMyMac, Drive Genius, or TechTool Pro to format your hard drive. However, we recommend using Disk Utility, as it is a reliable and built-in app on your Mac.

Q: Can I format only a part of my hard drive?

A: Yes, you can use Disk Utility to create partitions on your hard drive and format them separately. This can be useful if you want to keep some data while erasing others.


Formatting your hard drive on a Mac can be a straightforward process, as long as you follow the steps carefully. Remember to back up your data before formatting, choose the right format type and scheme, and confirm your settings before erasing your data. With a clean and formatted hard drive, you can enjoy improved performance, more storage space, and a fresh start for your Mac.