[2 Working Ways] How to Format USB to FAT32 on Mac Without Losing Data

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 the detailed steps of using both tools for FAT32 format. If you lose data after formatting, turn to EaseUS Mac data recovery software.

Table of Contents

Are you looking for a secure way to format USB to FAT32 on Mac? You are at the right place. Follow here, and you can find two methods to assist you in doing so on your storage device. And if you lost data during the formatting, reliable Mac file recovery software is ready to help anytime:

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Method 1. Use Disk Utility Connect USB to Mac > Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility > Select USB and click "Erase"...Full steps
Method 2. Use Terminal Command Connect USB to Mac > Hit cmd + space keys > Type terminal and hit Enter...Full steps
Bonus Tip. Recover Formatted Data If you lost data due to formatting, run EaseUS file recovery software > Scan and recover formatted data...Full steps

How to Format a USB Flash Drive with Mac to FAT32

Computer users who use a USB might have the demand for formatting it to the FAT32 file system. Compared with the other commonly used NTFS file systems on a flash drive, FAT32 has a compatibility advantage across many operating systems.

It's a universal format 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 benefit from the FAT32 file system. For Apple Mac users, there are two ways to format a USB flash drive to FAT32: Disk Utility and Terminal command line. Below are the detailed steps of the FAT32 format with both methods.

Method 1. Format USB to FAT32 on Mac with Disk Utility

To format USB to FAT32 with Disk Utility will erase all data on the flash drive, so before you do 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.

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

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

Step 4. Rename the USB flash drive (optional).

Step 5. 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 use it to save data again.

Method 2. Format USB to FAT32 on Mac with Terminal Command Line

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

To format FAT32 on Mac with Terminal, follow the next steps:

Step 1. Connect the 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.

Step 3. Type: diskutil list and find out which disk is your USB drive. 

Step 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 the command again to check if the formatting has been successful. If you can't format the USB manually, you can use a FAT32 format tool to make it.

In addition to the step-by-step guide, you can also refer to this video to format FAT32 on Mac.

  • 0:22 Check the drives in Finder
  • 2:47 Check/eject the external hard drives
  • 3:03 Format USB to FAT32 on Mac
How To Format A USB On Mac (Flash Drive Format)

Bonus Tip: How to Recover Data from Formatted USB

Formatting the USB would erase the data, so please make sure you have a backup. If you don't, you can count on data recovery software to retrieve lost data.

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

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

Step 1. Connect your USB drive to your Mac

Correctly connect your USB flash drive to your Mac. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac. Start selecting the flash drive and click "Search for lost files" to let the software scan for lost files on it.

Note: Before data recovery, you'd better click "Disk Backup" from the left sidebar to create a backup of your USB drive to avoid further data loss. After backing up the USB drive, the software can recover data from your USB drive backup, and you can remove the USB flash drive and use it again.

select your USB drive and search for lost files

Step 2. Find lost data on the USB drive

After the scan, all files will be presented in the left panel in the scan results.

Find lost data on USB using the filter function

Step 3. Recover data from flash drive

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

recover flash drive data


To sum up, formatting USB to FAT32 on Mac is a piece of cake. Either Disk Utility or Terminal command can do you a great favor. You should back up your USB drive in advance to avoid Mac USB data loss. If you want to recover deleted files on Mac, a USB, an external hard drive, SSD, and more, turn to EaseUS Mac data recovery software. This Mac USB recovery software can help you a lot.

Format FAT32 Mac FAQs

This part provides additional help on Mac FAT32 format. Read the questions and answers below if necessary.

1. What is the maximum USB size for FAT32?

2TB. A drive formatted with FAT32 can hold 2TB files containing separate files under 4GB. But FAT32 doesn't support partitions under 512MB. So you cannot format a drive as a single FAT32 partition if it is larger than 2TB or smaller than 512MB.

2. Why Is FAT32 greyed out on Mac?

Here's the reason - the option is unavailable for the USB drive you are formatting. For example, Mac doesn't allow you to format 32GB and smaller SD cards as MS-DOS (FAT32).

3. How to format a 64GB USB to FAT32 on Mac?

Here are the steps to format a 64GB USB to FAT32 on Mac:

  • Insert the USB to be formatted to a Mac PC.
  • Navigate to Applications > Utilities, and click it twice to open.
  • Select the drive you want to format and click on Erase.
  • Rename the USB drive (optional), and choose the MS-DOS(FAT) format.

4. Is FAT32 compatible with Mac?

Yes, FAT32 is compatible with Mac.

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Updated by Finley

Finley is interested in reading and writing articles about technical knowledge. Her articles mainly focus on file repair and data recovery.

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Written by Tracy King

Tracy became a member of the EaseUS content team in 2013. Being a technical writer for over 10 years, she is enthusiastic about sharing tips to assist readers in resolving complex issues in disk management, file transfer, PC & Mac performance optimization, etc., like an expert.

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