How to format a USB thumb drive for both Mac and Windows
For those of us who rarely physically transfer files between devices, the ability to format files may be a distant memory. It used to attract a lot of attention. However, it still pops up when you try to put files on a USB stick to pass them on to someone else. If you’re both Mac users, that’s not a problem. With Mac and Windows in the mix, you might be tempted to choose FAT32 when formatting your USB stick.
But FAT32 is clearly outdated. It was designed for an earlier time and cannot handle files larger than 4GB. Instead, choose ExFAT, its (still quite old) replacement that’s best suited to drives of 32GB or larger capacity.
First, make sure you have a copy of all the data on a drive that you want to format as ExFAT, as formatting will erase the drive’s contents. Follow these steps:
Connect the drive to your Mac.
Launch Disk Utility (from Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility).
Select the drive in the left sidebar.
From the Format menu, select ExFAT.
From the Scheme menu, select Master boot record.
Click Delete and follow the instructions to confirm.
This Mac 911 article is in response to a question from Macworld reader Robin.
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