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

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 use data recovery software to recover data from a formatted USB drive.

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, you can find two methods that will 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. 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, namely Disk Utility and Terminal command line. Below are the detailed steps of the FAT32 format with both methods.

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.

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

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

Bonus Tip: How to Recover Data from Formatted USB

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

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard has both Windows and Mac versions, so it's a good choice for data recovery, no matter 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 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 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 a quick scan and deep scan, all files will be presented in the left panel in the scan results.

scan lost data on the flash drive

Step 3. Select files you want to recover and click the "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

Was This Page Helpful?

author icon

Updated by Gemma

Gemma is member of EaseUS team and has been committed to creating valuable content in fields about file recovery, partition management, and data backup etc for many years. She loves to help users solve various types of computer related issues.

Read full bio

author icon

Written by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

Read full bio

Product Reviews

TrustScore 4.7 | 59 reviews
  • EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a powerful system recovery software, designed to enable you to recover files you’ve deleted accidentally, potentially lost to malware or an entire hard drive partition.

    Read More
  • EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we have seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past.

    Read More
  • EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro has a reputation as one of the best data recovery software programs on the market. It comes with a selection of advanced features, including partition recovery, formatted drive restoration, and corrupted file repair.

    Read More