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How to Format USB/External Hard Drive to ExFAT [Windows & Mac]

Updated by Tracy King on Nov 28, 2022

Need format your USB or external hard drive to ExFAT in Windows or macOS? Follow this page and find out how to format your storage devices to ExFAT on your own.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
1. Format to ExFAT on Windows To format USB or external hard drives, there are 4 major USB formatters that you can have a try...Full steps
2. Format to ExFAT on Mac

Connect your external hard drive or USB > Press Command + Space keys, type Disk Utility...Full steps

ExFAT - Best Format for USB/External Hard Drive on Windows and Mac

ExFAT, known as a newer version of FAT32, is short for Extensible File Allocation Table, introduced by Microsoft in 2006. It's an optimized file system for flash memory like USB flash drives, SD cards, and external hard drives.

ExFAT is also regarded as the best format for USB and external hard drives on both Windows and Mac computers as ExFAT can be used where NTFS is not supported. It also has a greater file-size limit compared to FAT32 - 4GB. What's more, it has been adopted as the default file system for SDXC cards larger than 32GB.

Here is a list of details of ExFAT and you'll learn why is ExFAT recommended as the default format for USB flash drives or external hard drives:

Features ExFAT
Compatibility
  • Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7 and Vista (Vista requires Services Pack 1 or 2)
  • macOS 12/11/10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12 - Mac OS X 10.6.6.
Maximum File Size
  • 16EiB
Maximum Partition Size
  • 128PB
Usage
  • Cross-platform usage, transferring and sharing files between Windows and Mac computers.
  • Store big-sized files, break limits of FAT32.
  • Use on NTFS unsupported platforms like macOS or Linux.

So how do I format my USB drives for external hard drives to ExFAT for Windows and Mac? Check the tutorials below, you'll get a full guide below to format USB or external hard drives on Windows and Mac.

Format USB/External Hard Drive to ExFAT on Windows [4 ExFAT Formatters]

When it comes to formatting USB or external hard drives, there are 4 major USB formatters that you can turn to have a try:

  1. #1. EaseUS Formatting Tool
  2. #2. File Explorer
  3. #3. Disk Management
  4. #4. DiskPart
Warning
Formatting will clean up and remove all data on a storage device. So make sure that you back up all essential files before following the tips below to format your USB or external hard drive into ExFAT.

#1. Format to ExFAT Using EaseUS Formatting Tool

All-In-One Disk Formatter and Disk Manager

EaseUS Partition Master Professional simplifies the formatting procedure into several clicks. Besides formatting USB or external hard drive, you can also apply this tool to manage your internal disks on Windows computers flexibly:

EaseUS Partition Master - Reliable ExFAT Formatter

  • Format USB, external hard drive to ExFAT, Ext2/3/4, NTFS, FAT32, etc. 
  • Convert from NTFS to FAT32 or FAT32 to NTFS without formatting. 
  • Convert internal disk from MBR to GPT, or GPT to MBR, no data loss.
  • Migrate OS to HDD/SSD without reinstallation.
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Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD card which you want to format and choose the "Format" option.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 1

Step 2. Assign a new partition label, file system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and cluster size to the selected partition, then click "OK".

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 2

Step 3. In the Warning window, click "Yes" to continue.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 3

Step 4. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting your external hard drive/USB/SD card.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 4

Follow this video yo learn more featured functions in EaseUS exFAT formatted:

#2. Format to ExFAT with File Explorer

The Easiest ExFAT Formatter in Windows

Step 1. Connect the USB or external hard drive to Windows PC or laptop.

Step 2. Open File Explorer and right-click the USB or external disk, select "Format".

Step 3. Set the file system as "ExFAT" and tick "Perform a quick format", click "Start".

Format USB or external hard drive to exfat

#3. Format to ExFAT Using Disk Management

Windows Built-in Formatter

Step 1. Connect external hard drive or USB drive to Windows computer.

Step 2. Search "Create and format hard disk partitions" to click and open Disk Management.

Open Disk management

Step 3. Right-click the USB or external hard drive, select "Format".

Step 4. Select the file system as "exFAT" and tick "Perform a quick format", click "OK" to confirm.

Format to exfat via Disk Management

#4. Format to ExFAT via DiskPart

Windows Administrator Formatting Tool

Step 1. Connect the USB or external hard drive to a Windows computer.

Step 2. Press Windows + R keys, type diskpart and click "OK" to open it.

Open Diskpart

Step 3. Type the following command lines one by one, and make sure that you type in the right command lines each time. Hit "Enter" to execute the operations:

  • list disk
  • select disk 2 (replace 2 with the USB or external drive number)
  • list partition
  • select partition 2 (replace 2 with the volume number of your USB or external disk)
  • format fs=exfat quick

Format USB or external hard drive into exFAT via DiskPart

After formatting the USB or external hard drive, you can connect the device to both of your Windows and Mac computers to transfer and share files as you want. 

Format USB/External Hard Drive to ExFAT on Mac

If you are using a Mac computer and need a full guide to format the USB or external hard drive to ExFAT, you can turn to Disk Utility for help. Also, remember to copy and back up useful files to another location in advance.

Here is the full guide:

Step 1. Connect your external hard drive or USB flash drive to your Mac computer.

Step 2. Press Command + Space keys, type Disk Utility in the spotlight, and hit "Return" to open it.

Open Disk Utility

Step 3. Select the USB or external hard drive on the left pane in Disk Utility, and click "Erase" on the top menu.

Erase USB or external hard drive

Step 4. Select "ExFAT" as the file format from the Format drop list.

Erase USB or external hard drive to exfat

Step 5. Last, click "Erase" to confirm the operation.

Confirm to format USB or external hard drive to exFAT on Mac

Format USB/External Hard Drive to ExFAT for Windows and Mac with The Best ExFAT Formatter 

On this page, we explained the best format for USB and external hard drives on both Windows and Mac is ExFAT. If you prefer or plan to set a cross-platform supported format for your storage devices, ExFAT is the best.

Also, we provided 4 ExFAT formatters on Windows and one reliable disk formatting tool on Mac that you can pick any method that applies to you the best for help. Formatting USB or external hard drive to ExFAT is easy.

For a quick tip, here is EaseUS Editors' Pick:

  • On Windows, File Explorer and EaseUS Partition Master shall be your first choice for formatting removable devices.

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  • On Mac, Disk Utility shall always be the top selection for formatting a device.

Just follow the tips above for help now.

FAQs About Format Device to exFAT for Windows & Mac

If you have more questions on formatting storage devices to exFAT for Windows and Mac, follow and find answers here:

1. What happens if I format to exFAT?

When you format a storage device to any file system format, such as exFAT, two things will happen to your storage device:

  • One is to delete and remove all existing data on the device.
  • Two is to reset or change the file system format to exFAT.

2. How do I conert a file to exFAT?

To convert a file system format on your device, you'll need to turn to a reliable formatting tool for help. You can change the file system format to exFAT by formatting the storage device.

3. Should I format my drive to exFAT?

It depends on what you plan to use the drive for. If you simply want to use it to store data on a Windows computer, you should set the file system format as NTFS. 

But if you want to use the drive as a gaming disk, such as for Xbox One, you shuold format it to exFAT.

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About the Author

Updated 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.

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