macOS: How to Format USB Flash Drive to FAT32

Formatting a USB flash drive to the FAT32 file system is a common requirement, especially when you need to use the drive with multiple devices and operating systems. FAT32 is a widely supported file system that allows for compatibility between various platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. In this article, we will guide you through the process of formatting a USB flash drive to FAT32 on macOS, ensuring that you can conveniently transfer and access your files across different systems.


Before proceeding with the formatting process, make sure you have the following:

  1. A USB flash drive: Ensure that the drive is connected to your Mac and recognized by the system.
  2. Back up your data: Formatting erases all the data on the USB flash drive, so it is crucial to create a backup of any important files stored on it.

Formatting a USB Flash Drive to FAT32 on macOS

Follow the steps below to format your USB flash drive to the FAT32 file system on macOS:

Step 1: Launch Disk Utility

  1. Open the “Applications” folder on your Mac.
  2. Scroll down and open the “Utilities” folder.
  3. Look for the “Disk Utility” application and double-click to launch it.

Step 2: Select the USB Flash Drive

  1. In the Disk Utility window, you will see a list of drives and volumes on the left-hand side.
  2. Locate your USB flash drive in the list and select it. Be cautious not to select your Mac’s internal hard drive or any other important storage device.

Step 3: Erase the USB Flash Drive

  1. With your USB flash drive selected, click on the “Erase” button located at the top of the Disk Utility window.
  2. A dialog box will appear, prompting you to provide a name, format, and scheme for the drive.

Step 4: Choose the FAT32 File System

  1. Enter a name for your USB flash drive in the “Name” field. Choose a descriptive name that will help you identify the drive.
  2. Click on the drop-down menu next to “Format” to reveal the available file system options.
  3. From the list, select “MS-DOS (FAT)” as the format. This option represents the FAT32 file system.
  4. Ensure that the “Scheme” is set to “Master Boot Record.” This scheme is compatible with both Intel-based Macs and Windows computers.
  5. Double-check that you have selected the correct drive for formatting.

Step 5: Format the USB Flash Drive

  1. Once you have provided a name, selected the FAT32 format, and confirmed the scheme, click on the “Erase” button.
  2. Disk Utility will display a warning message, informing you that formatting erases all data on the drive. Make sure you have backed up any important files, as mentioned earlier.
  3. Click on “Erase” to proceed with the formatting process. The progress will be displayed on the screen.

Step 6: Completion

  1. Once the formatting is complete, Disk Utility will display a confirmation message.
  2. You have successfully formatted your USB flash drive to the FAT32 file system. You can now safely disconnect the drive from your Mac.


By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily format a USB flash drive to the FAT32 file system on macOS. This process allows for seamless compatibility between different platforms, enabling you to transfer and access your files conveniently. Remember to back up your data before formatting, as the process erases all existing files on the drive. With your freshly formatted USB flash drive, you can now enjoy hassle-free file sharing across Windows, macOS, and Linux systems.

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