Dec 26, 2017 We’ve shown you how to securely wipe a hard drive with your Mac, and doing so in Recovery Mode isn’t really different from doing so within macOS. To get started, click the Disk Utility option. Depending on how you started Recovery Mode, you may be presented with the option to start Disk Utility right away, as seen above. Mar 15, 2018 If you need to work with Mac-formatted drives on a regular basis and you want the operating system integration, speed, and write access, Paragon HFS+ is a great choice and will be worth it for you. But, if you just need to get some files off a Mac-formatted drive occasionally, this is overkill and you can save $20 by sticking with HFSExplorer.
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Jul 13,2020 • Filed to: Hard Drive Recovery • Proven solutions
“How to format an external hard drive Mac? What format system to use when reformatting my storage drive for a Mac?”
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This is a frequent question asked by first-time, as well as the not-so-tech-savvy, macOS users. Learning how to format an external hard drive Mac is essential. Because saving all your data on the Cloud is nice and all, but physical storage is still popular. Especially if you don’t have a stable internet connection or if most of your files are large.
Luckily, you don’t have to learn rocket science to be able to format an external hard drive for Mac or PC. The operation is pretty straightforward.
When it comes to your Apple device, there are two methods to use. Read on to find out all you need to know about them.
Part 1: What Is the Best Format for External Hard Drive Mac?
The first step to formatting your external drive for a Mac computer is choosing the right format. There are four possible choices:
- APFS (Apple File System)
- HFS+ (Mac OS Extended)
- exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table)
- FAT (MS-DOS)
To understand which is the best for you, let’s have a comprehensive overview of each of them.
Apple File System
The APFS was first introduced in 2017 as a replacement for the HFS+. Nowadays, all new Macs come with the operating system preinstalled on APFS, as this system is optimized for use with SSD and flash storage drives. However, it still works with traditional HDD drives too.
This is the best format to pick if you have an external SSD or USB flash drive that you don’t intend to use with a Windows device.
The biggest strength of this system is the speed, as well as the encryption and metadata handling. However, you won’t be able to use this system with Time Machine.
Mac OS Extended
The HFS+, or Hierarchical File System plus on its real name, was the main file system used for Mac until 2017.
This type of file system is suitable to use with both HDD and SDD drives, but the latter will perform slightly better with the APFS mentioned above. If you have an older Mac, though, choosing the HFS+ is your best bet.
In general, all external drives formatted to HFS+ work nicely with older Mac versions but are incompatible with Windows.
Extended File Allocation Table
Designed by Microsoft, the exFAT is a good choice if you plan to use the external hard drive with both macOS and Windows systems. Yet, you won’t get top performance on either. This choice is more appropriate for USB flash drives, although you can still use it for SDD and HDD units too.
The main issue with exFAT is that your drive will be more prone to fragmentation when used with Apple devices and is less stable than NTFS on Windows. If you really have to share the drive between Mac and Windows machines, that’s your best option though.
Macs also support FAT32 drives, marked as FAT in Disk Utility. This format should be avoided at all costs unless you’re dealing with a really old Windows computer, which you really have to use in parallel with your Mac system.
Typically, there is no reason to choose this option unless you’re planning to use the external hard drive on a Windows XP or earlier machine.
Part 2: How to Format an External Hard Drive Mac?
Now that you know which format to choose, it’s time to learn how to format an external hard drive for Mac. There are essentially two methods, with Disk Utility or Time Machine function.
Note: If you plan to format an older external drive, perhaps one you used with another device, make sure to backup all data before proceeding. Formatting is a permanent procedure that can’t be reversed. While there are data recovery software you can use if you lost data, it is always better to prevent.
Mac sudo root. That said, here’s how to format an external hard drive Mac:
Method 1: Format Mac Hard Drive with Disk Utility
Disk Utility is a utility application proprietary to macOS that is used to both format and manage internal and external disks. Here’s how to use it:
Step 1 Connect the external hard drive you want to format to your Mac, then start the Disk Utility app that you can find under Applications -> Utilities.
Step 2 On the left side of the Utilities screen, find the name of the external hard drive you want to format and select it. Then, on the top side under the Disk Utility, click on the Erase button.
Step 3 Follow the on-screen prompts to select the desired file system and allow the drive to format. That’s it! After the process is complete, you can either start using the drive or choose to create partitions on it.
Method 2: Format Mac Hard Drive with Time Machine
Formatting an external hard drive with Time Machine is as easy as formatting it with Disk Utility. Time Machine, however, gives you the possibility to create an automatic backup of the data on your hard drive before formatting it.
Before you proceed, therefore, you should first set up the external drive to use with Time Machine.
To do this, open System Preferences and select Time Machine after you’ve connected the external drive to your Mac.
Now, click on Select Disk and select the desired drive from the list. Click on the Use Disk button. At this point, the system will run an automatic backup two minutes after you’ve clicked on the Use Disk button, or you can proceed with the formatting if the hard disk is empty.
To format an external hard drive for Mac with Time Machine, you must follow the steps below.
Step 1 Open Finder, Applications, then go to Utilities and Disk Utility.
Step 2 Follow the steps above to format the drive, and then you can use it with Time Machine on your Mac system.
Part 3: Bonus Tip – Data Recovery from Formatted Hard Drive on Mac
Sometimes, it may happen that you accidentally formatted an external hard drive containing important data. Whether it’s your wedding pictures or your bachelor’s degree thesis, chances are you want to get that data back as quickly as possible.
If you have a newer version of Mac, you can use the Apple Time Machine to recover your canceled files, or you could choose to use external software, such as Recoverit Data Recovery.
1. Recover Data with Apple Time Machine
In the former hypothesis, you can try to recover your data with the Time Machine. This app is Apple’s backup feature present on the newer systems. If you followed the steps above before formatting the hard drive with Time Machine and allowed the app to execute the backup, then there are high chances that you can recover any lost data without too much hassle.
To do so, just launch the Time Machine and browse through the folders to see if it has saved the files you require.
For easier browsing, you can use the time stamp feature on the right side of the screen and select the date or time when you executed the backup.
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Once you found the files, simply click on Restore to get them back.
2. Recover Data with Recoverit Data Recovery
If you didn’t use the Time Machine function or couldn’t find the files you need, you can try to recover any lost files with trusted third-party software, such as Recoverit Data Recovery.
A Life Saver to Solve Your Data Loss Problems!
- This easy-to-use software allows you to recover unlimited lost or deleted files from your Mac device, including photo, video, and audio data, document files, and more.
- It supports all types of Mac files irrespective of their extension.
- The application is compatible with both internal and external drives, USB pens, memory cards, and other hardware, so you can rest assured it will retrieve your data if it’s there.
- It can retrieve data from accidentally deleted files, lost or formatted partitions, data lost due to virus attacks, system crashes, or data lost by the Time Machine.
- It is free to download and supports all leading macOS versions, including the 10.14 release.
This system is also very easy to use, in just three easy steps:
Step 1 Install the application and choose the desired location
Download and install the software on your Mac computer, then open it and select the external hard drive, partition, or location where you want to retrieve data.
Step 2 Start the scan to retrieve your lost data
Click the Start button. The software will now scan the selected drive and display all retrieved data in an easy-to-scour list.
Step 3 Preview the recovered files and save them in your chosen location
Review and select the target files, then launch the recovery process. That’s it. The software will restore your lost data.
Smart board software for mac 10.6. As you can see, how to format an external hard drive Mac is not particularly complicated. The Disk Utility allows you to format the desired drive to the desired system in a blink of an eye. Backing up the data on your drive with Time Machine also allows you to avoid the recovery hassle.
If you still lost some data, you even know which software to use to recover all lost files.
Now it’s your turn. Use this guide to format your external drive, download, and use the data recovery software if needed, and don’t forget to share this article with your Mac-addicted friends. They might make good use of it too.
Summary: This post shows how to access a WD hard drive when it's not recognized by Mac. To fix WD external hard drive not recognizing error without data loss, you can recover lost data from the unrecognized hard drive for free with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.
Just like Seagate external hard drive not recognized on Mac, Western Digital hard drive not recognized on Mac is another frequently asked question in Apple related forums.
So, if you are wondering:
- Why is the Mac not recognizing my WD hard drive?
- How can I make the unrecognized WD hard drive work on Mac again?
- Can I fix this issue without losing my important data?
You are in the right place for a solution!
How Mac recognizes a WD external hard drive?
The process of Mac recognizing an external hard drive is a little complicated even though you can't see it. Specifically, when you plug a WD hard drive into a Mac computer, macOS would be notified. Then macOS will call all related hardware and software to read, recognize, and show this hard drive on the Desktop and in Finder, so that finally you can access your data on the drive on your Mac computer.
So, we usually simplify this process in 4 steps:
- The WD hard drive is supplied with power.
- macOS reads partition information of the WD hard drive.
- macOS recognizes the file system of each volume.
- Users access data on the WD hard drive.
However, if any part of this process goes wrong, Mac won't recognize your WD hard drive. As a consequence, you can't access, copy, write to or transfer data stored on it.
Guide to Fix Mac not recognizing WD hard drive
So, based on the process of Mac recognizing a WD hard drive, we need a thorough check to know which part makes the WD hard drive not working on Mac, and then fix it in the following part.
Quick fixes of WD hard drive not recognized on Mac error
Find Hard Drive On Mac
A proper connection is the most basic condition that Mac can access the WD hard drive. Or else the external hard drive would not even show up in Disk Utility. When your Mac can't recognize an external hard drive, you can always do the following quick fixes at the very beginning.
- Make sure the WD hard drive is externally plugged into a wall outlet if it's a WD desktop hard drive like WD Elements Desktop and My Cloud.
- Connect the WD hard drive USB cable directly to the computer and do not use a USB Hub.
- Try a different USB cable and port for power and data supply, especially if the My Passport external hard drive is not showing up in Disk Utility.
- Try a different USB-C adapter to connect the WD hard drive if your Mac only has the Thunderbolt 3 port.
- Try to connect the WD hard drive with a different Mac computer to check if the WD hard drive can be recognized on that Mac.
- Try to plug the WD hard drive in to a PC to check if the file system of the WD hard drive is not compatible with Mac.
The WD hard drive lights on but is not recognized by Mac still? Wait! Do you allow your Mac to show the recognized WD hard drive in the Finder and Desktop?
Show the WD hard drive in the Finder and Desktop
Sometimes, you think WD hard drive is not recognized by Mac because the WD external hard drive isn't showing up in Finder or on the desktop. However, the fact is that the WD hard drive is detected by macOS and it is not set to show up on Mac.
In this case, you can show the WD hard drive by changing the settings:
Step 1: Go to Finder > Preferences > General, make sure the 'External disks' option is ticked. This will make the WD hard drive show up on the Desktop.
Step 2: Select Sidebar tab on the top, make sure the 'External disks' option under Locations is also ticked.
The WD hard drive is not working on Mac still?
Well, it seems that Mac really can't recognize the WD hard drive. We need to take advantage of some tools for further check.
Update incompatible WD Apps with WD Discovery
Western Digital has multiple self-developed software, including WD Drive Utilities for Mac, WD Discovery for Mac, and WD Security for Mac. Possibly, your Mac doesn't recognize the WD hard drive because the WD software is not compatible with your macOS.
In this situation, you can simply update those WD programs through WD discovery.
Check if the WD hard drive is password locked
If you are using WD hard drives like My Book Drive and it is not recognized by Mac now, you can check if the hard drive is password protected. It's because macOS won't read the partition information and mount the volumes if the WD hard drive is password locked.
You can download and install WD discovery to unlock the WD hard drive if a password has been set to protect the hard drive.
The WD hard drive is not encrypted? Then the reason for Mac not recognizing the WD hard drive is that macOS fails to access the partition and file system information.
Repair the unrecognized WD hard drive in Disk Utility
Disk Utility is a built-in disk management and repair tool on Mac computers. When a WD hard drive is not recognized or not working due to inner disk errors, you can try to repair the unrecognizable WD hard drive with Disk Utility.
Tips: Before you try to repair the WD hard drive in Disk Utility, if the WD hard drive shows up in Disk Utility but not mounted, you can select the Mount option first then the WD hard drive will be mounted on the Desktop.
Step 1: Go to Applications > Disk Utility.
Step 2: Click 'View' and choose 'Show All Devices'.
Step 3: Select the unrecognized WD hard drive from the sidebar.
Step 4: Click on First Aid on the top. Wait while First Aid verifying and fixing possible errors of the WD hard drive.
If First Aid can't repair the WD hard drive, or Disk Utility doesn't recognize the volumes of the drive, probably, the WD hard drive could be corrupted caused by bad sectors.
Use WD Drive Utilities when WD hard drives not working on Mac
If a WD hard drive won't work normally on a Mac due to bad sectors or other parameter errors, you can use WD Drive Utilities for Mac to have a diagnosis what happens to your hard drive. It's because WD Drive Utilities is a specialized utility for WD hard drives to check for potential drive failures, slow disk performance, and bad sectors.
Step 1: Install WD Drive Utilities on your Mac and then launch it.
Step 2: Plug the unrecognizable WD hard drive into the Mac.
Step 3: Click on 'Diagnose' and choose 'Run Quick Drive Test' to check the WD drive completely.
Fix the unrecognized WD hard drive by reformatting
If the unrecognizable WD hard drive can't be repaired by WD Drive Utilities, the file system of the WD hard drive might be seriously damaged or corrupted. In this case, you have to reformat or erase this WD hard drive. Before that, it's necessary to recover lost data from unrecognized WD hard drive with free hard drive data recovery software for Mac, like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac, to avoid data loss.
iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is professional in external hard drive data recovery on Mac. It supports Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, Samsung, and hard drives of other manufacturers. This data recovery software can recover lost data when hard drive is unrecognized, unmountable, unreadable, corrupted on Mac. Besides, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac can recover lost data from Macintosh hard drive, USB drives, Pen drives, SD cards, memory cards, CF cards as well as other storage devices.
Tutorial to recover lost data from unrecognizable WD hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac and reformatting
Step 1: Recover lost data from unrecognized WD hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.
1. Download, install, and launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.
To recover your important photos, videos, music, documents, emails from this unrecognizable WD hard drive, you can free download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your Mac.
2. Scan for lost data on the WD hard drive.
When the data recovery software is launched, you will see your unrecognizable WD hard drive in the interface. You need to select this corrupted WD hard drive and then click the 'Scan' button to scan for data on this drive.
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3. Preview and recover files.
When WD hard drive is corrupted, you can't access your data on this drive. But you can use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to preview the data on the drive, which will help you make sure your files are not corrupted before you finally click 'Recover' to recover them.
Mac Os Hard Drive Icon
Step 2: Fix WD hard drive not recognized error by reformatting.
Mac Os Hard Drive Format
1. Go to Disk Utility and select the unrecognized WD hard drive from the sidebar.
2. Click on Erase on the top.
3. Follow the instructions to finish the reformatting process.
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After reformatting WD hard drive process finished, you will hopefully see the WD hard drive recognized and showing up on Mac correctly.
Apple Mac External Hard Drive
However, if the external hard drive is not showing up in Disk Utility at all, the great chance is that the WD hard drive is physically broken. As a result, Mac can't read and recognize it. In this case, we advise you to check if the serial number of the WD hard drive is still in warranty so that you can ask for a repair or replacement service.
WD provides no-limited warranty unless your WD hard drive was purchased from an authorized distributor or authorized reseller like Amazon. So, if your WD hard drive is dead for disk corruption, please free free to contact their support team for warranty status review and product replacement.
Whenever a WD hard drive being unrecognized on Mac, data rescue should come first. After recovering data from the unrecognized hard drive with free data recovery software like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac, you can then try to fix the error in different ways without worrying about data loss. Besides, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac also helps recovering data when USB flash drives, Toshiba external hard drives, or other external hard drives that are not showing up on Mac.