How to Format a Hard Drive on macOS

Clean your old hard drive using a Mac.
Ash Ash (362)
10 minutes

Whether your troubleshooting an old hard drive—or preparing or backing up an SD card for a Raspberry Pi—you'll probably need to format that. We've got you covered! Today we're looking at the best ways to format a hard drive on macOS.

These processes will work for hard drives, external drives, and flash drives alike. First things first, make sure the drive you want to format is connected to your computer.

If you, instead, need to format a hard drive in Windows, we have a separate guide for that.

Posted in these interests:
h/apple163 guides
h/macos87 guides
Format hard drive on macOS

Navigate to Applications > Utilities and choose Disk Utility.

Select the drive you want to format from the left-hand navigation menu. Click Erase in the bottom right-hand corner.

Select a file system to format the drive with. If you're not sure, Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is a safe bet. Choose a new name for the formatted drive and click Erase.

Run diskutil list on macOS
File System Abbreviation
Mac OS Extended (Journaled) JHFS+
Mac OS Extended HFS+
MS-DOS fat32 FAT32

Navigate to Applications > Utilities and choose Terminal.

Type diskutil list and press enter. This will provide a list of hard drives attached to the machine. Locate and note the name of the drive you want to format.

You can use the diskutil eraseDisk command to format a harddrive. Run the following command, be sure to make adjustments for your drive. Replace JHFS+ with any file system you need (check the chart above for a list of file systems you can use). Replace CleanDrive with the new name for your formatted drive. Put your disk name in place of /dev/disk1

diskutil eraseDisk JHFS+ CleanDrive /dev/disk1

Congratulations! Your hard drive has been formatted.

Clean up your old hard drives.
Ash Ash (362)
10 minutes

There are plenty of reasons to format a hard drive—we're not here to ask questions. We know what it's like to clean up an old PC or prepare an SD card for a new Raspberry Pi project.