How to Format USB Flash Drive to FAT32 on Mac without Data Loss?

Tracy King updated on Jun 14, 2019 to Mac File Recovery | How-to Articles

Summary

For Apple Mac users, there are two ways to format USB flash drive to FAT32, including Disk Utility and Terminal command line. Refer to detailed steps of using both tools for FAT32 format. Formatting would erase data completely, make sure that you have a data backup. Otherwise, you can only use data recovery software to recover data from a formatted USB drive.

How to Format a USB Flash Drive with Mac to FAT32

Many computer users who use a removable flash drive have the demand for formatting it to the FAT32 file system. Compare with the other commonly used NTFS file system on a flash drive, FAT32 has a compatibility advantage across many operating systems.

It's a universal format that is compatible with Mac OS X/macOS, Windows, Linux and DOS systems. So, if users anticipate using the flash drive with more than one operating system, they will definitely benefit from the FAT32 file system. For Apple Mac users, there are two ways to format a USB flash drive to FAT32, including Disk Utility and Terminal command line. Refer to detailed steps of using both tools for FAT32 format.

Method 1. Format FAT32 on Mac [Disk Utility]

To format USB to FAT32 with Disk Utility will erase all data on the flash drive, so before you doing so, please do remember to check whether you have saved useful data to another secure device in advance.

To format the USB drive to FAT32, follow the next steps:

Step 1. Connect the USB flash drive to your Mac computer.

Connect USB to Mac before formatting.

Step 2.Go to Applications > Utilities > Double click and open Disk Utility.

Format USB to FAT32.

Step 3. Select your USB flash drive on the sidebar, choose Erase.

Step 4. Rename the USB flash drive, choose the format as MS-DOS (FAT) for Format, Master Boot Record for Scheme. Then click Erase.

Format USB to FAT32 wtih Disk Utility.

Wait for the process to complete, then you’ll get an empty new USB flash drive with FAT32 as the file system. You can reuse it for saving data again.

Method 2. Format FAT32 on Mac [Terminal Command Line]

The command line behavior does the same way to erase data with the Disk Utility. Again, create a backup before taking this action.

To format FAT32 with Terminal, follow the next steps:

Step 1. Connect your USB flash drive to your Mac computer.

Step 2. Hit cmd + space to run Spotlight, type: terminal and hit Enter.

Bring up Terminal to run Command Line for USB formatting.

3. Type:diskutil list and find out which disk is your USB drive. (In the below picture, you can see that /dev/disk2 is the USB drive)

4. Type: sudo diskutil eraseDisk FAT32 MBRFormat /dev/disk2.

  • sudo gives you user right.
  • Diskutil calls disk utility program.
  • eraseDisk commands to format.
  • FAT32 sets the file system.
  • MBRFormat tells disk utility to format with a Master Boot Record.
  • /dev/disk2 is the location of the USB drive.

Format USB to FAT32 with command line on Mac.

Wait for the process to complete. After this, you can type: diskutil list in command again to check if the formatting has been successful. 

Complementary Data Recovery Tip

Formatting would erase data completely, make sure that you have a data backup. Otherwise, you can only use data recovery software to recover data from a formatted USB drive.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard has both Windows and Mac versions, so it's the optimal choice for data recovery, no matter you're using a PC or Mac. If you're a Mac user, for example, it takes only a few clicks for the software to scan and display your formatted data. To guarantee an effective data recovery without spending money to no avail, you can install the Mac data recovery free version for the first trial. You can preview all the found data before the final recovery.

To recover data from a formatted FAT32 USB flash drive on Mac, follow the next steps:

Step 1. Correctly connect your USB flash drive to your Mac. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac. Start selecting the flash drive and click Scan to let the software search lost files on it.

select the flash drive where data lost and click scan

Step 2. After quick scan and deep scan, all files will be presented in the left pane in the scan results.

scan lost data on the flash drive

Step 3. Select files you want to recover and click Recover Now button. Don't save the recoverable files to the USB drive itself in case of data overwriting.

click recover now button to recover lost flash drive data on your Mac

 
 

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