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Format Any External Hard Drive for an Apple Mac | Tutorial with Images

Format Any External Hard Drive for an Apple Mac | Tutorial with Images

So you’re shopping for a new hard drive for your mac but you noticed a few things on the box.

  • Some don’t specify they are Apple Mac Compatible
  • The ones that say Apple compatible are sometimes more expensive

The great news is it does not matter which brand you buy.  You can easily format the drive in a few simple steps that I will show you.  I’ve even heard sales staff in shops try to up-sell a more expensive hard drive to customers because they used an Apple Mac.

How I Pick an External Hard Drive

Me personally, I shop based on hard disk drive size and price.  Usually, but not always I get great deals on Western Digital Drives or Seagate external hard drives.  Whatever is the least expensive with the biggest capacity is the one I will get.

No Mention of Mac Compatibility on the Box? No Problems!

I just purchased a Seagate 2TB Expansion drive from a local office supplies store.  One the side of the box it says “Compatible with Windows”.  There’s no mention of Apple anywhere on the side.  This means the disk is pre-formatted so you can plug it into a PC and it will just work fine.  The great news is we can re-format the disk to work for mac in 8 easy steps listed below.

How to format any drive to work with an Apple Mac in 8 Easy Steps

STEP 1:  Unbox the hard drive and plug this side of the cable into the hard drive.

STEP 2:  Plug the blue USB connection (below) into a free port on the computer.  The blue color denotes that this hard drive is USB 3.0 Speed.  If your cable is plain black it could be a USB 2.0-speed drive.  It doesn’t matter either way for storage usage.  USB 3.0 is faster to transfer files but it’s not a big deal.

Once you have the hard drive plugged in you can see it come up on the Desktop

How to format a Hard Drive for Mac
New Drive appears on the desktop

If you double click inside the drive you see files already in the drive.  This is usually the case for any Windows drive because it comes with free software we don’t even need. Let me show you how to format this drive properly for Mac.

Preinstalled Files
Preinstalled Files we don’t need for Mac OS Mojave

STEP 3:  Click on the Launchpad Icon from the Task Bar

Click Finder
(the Rocketship icon)

STEP 4:  Start Typing “Disk” and “Disk Utilities” will come up.  Click on the Disk Utilities Icon

Click Disk Utilities
(Disk Utilities left)

STEP 5:  You are now presented with the Apple Mac Disk Utility Tool. Click on the new hard drive you just installed.  Usually, it has the name of the brand on the drive.  As you can see below the new drive in my case is called Seagate Expansion. If you purchased a WD drive it will say Western Digital or WD for example.

Seagate Hard Drive
Seagate Hard Drive

STEP 6:  After selecting the proper drive click the “Erase” button at the top of this same view.

Seagate Hard Drive

STEP 7:  After clicking Erase on the prior step you are greeted with this popup.  You can now rename the drive easily to anything you like.  For my use I am calling it YouTube 2019 as I will be storing all the new video files I produce on this drive.

Format the Drive for Mac
Rename the Drive if required

STEP 8:  This step is critical or it won’t work.  Please use the format drop-down menu and click MAC OS Extended (Journaled). Next click Erase

Format the Drive
Format the Drive using Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

Disk Utilities will go through the following steps automatically:

Once you see the Green Tick you are all done! ✅

Congratulations! You have now formatted your new external Hard Drive to work with your Apple Mac running Mojave.

Final Step
You should now see your new Hard Drive on the desktop screen!

Please Remember:

This is the process for formatting any External Hard Disk Drive to work with an Apple Mac running OS Mojave or High Sierra.  The process is also the same for the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac Pro, iMac, and MacMini computers.

It doesn’t matter what brand of hard drive you buy.  It all comes down to the formatting applied to the drive.  This process will work for Solid State (SSD) drives as well as any other hard disk drive not pre-formatted for Apple Mac.  There’s no need to spend the extra dollars on a drive that is pre-formatted.  Once you have done this once the process is so simple I’m sure you’ll now be able to show your friends how to do the same exact thing as this article.

If this tutorial is helpful please share it with anyone who might require help with this topic.