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How to format a thumb drive for both Mac and Windows

For those of us who rarely physically transfer files across devices, the file format feature can be a distant memory. It used to occupy a lot of attention. But it still grows when you try to put files on a USB thumb drive to hand over to someone else. If you’re both Mac users, swell; With Mac and Windows in the mix, you may be tempted to choose FAT32 when formatting that thumb drive.

But FAT32 is clearly outdated. Designed for an earlier time, it can not handle files larger than 4 GB. Instead, choose ExFAT, the replacement (and still quite old), best used on drives with 32 GB or more capacity.

While first making sure you have a copy of the data on a drive you want to format as ExFAT, as formatting will delete the contents of the drive, follow these steps:

  1. Attach the drive to the Mac.

  2. Start Disk Utility (from Applications> Utilities> Disk Utility).

  3. Select the station in the left sidebar.

  4. Click Erase.

  5. From the Format menu, select EXFAT.

  6. Select from the Form menu Master Boot Record.

  7. Click Erase and follow the instructions to confirm.

disk utility format exfat IDG

This Mac 911 article is an answer to a question from Macworld reader Robin.

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