Format USB stick under OS X / macOS and Windows

If you want to format a USB stick for Mac and Windows PC so that you can use it under both macOS and Windows, I have the right instructions for you here. Of course, you don't have to follow both instructions for Apple Mac AND Windows PC, but only one of the two - depending on which operating system you have available to format the USB stick.

Format a USB stick for macOS / OS X and Windows so that it can be read and written on both systems - here are the instructions!

Format a USB stick for macOS / OS X and Windows so that it can be read and written on both systems - here are the instructions!

Format USB stick under macOS

If you want to format your USB stick for both systems on the Mac, then you should of course not select a file system that only Apple computers can read or write. So it's best to use the FAT file system. And this is how you proceed:

  • In Mac Utilities, open the Disk Utility
  • In the overview of the storage media, select the USB stick that you want to format
  • Click on the tab Partitioning
  • If you want to split the USB stick into virtual storage media, you can go to Volume scheme select the number of partitions (formatting as 1 partition is generally sufficient)
  • In the Format menu (right) you now choose MS-DOS file system (FAT) or exFAT out; both Mac and PC can read
  • You can also use the submenu Options (Button below) the scheme Master boat record choose
  • Now only Apply and in the next window Partitioning here

Abbreviation: Select FAT or ExFAT when deleting

The instructions were too long for you? Then you can, if you do not want to partition or make other special settings, proceed faster. To do this you go back to Disk Utility and selects the connected USB stick. To format this, you can now simply use the tab Delete Select and click the file systems FAT or ExFAT in the corresponding menu.

Format USB stick under Windows

Maybe you also have a Windows PC or you have a Mac macOS and Windows run in parallel. Then of course the first two instructions will not help you. Here is the procedure if you want to format a USB stick under Windows for PC and Mac:

  • Choose in Explore (Windows key + E) and remove the USB stick click right thereon
  • In the menu that now appears you choose Format ... from
  • Now a window appears in which you can again select details
  • As the file system (second roll menu) you choose FAT32 or exFAT
  • The checkmark at Quick format should you remove, then the formatting of the USB stick is a little more precise
  • Now just open starten and in the next window OK here

Video instructions for this process

Any questions?

Do you have any questions on the subject or a tip for formatting storage media? Perhaps you are going with a different program; for example with a cleaning program for hard drives and removable media? Feel free to leave a comment!


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  1. Felix says:


    I split my 128 GB USB stick into two partitions: around 30 GB on ExFat and the rest on the NTFS counterpart for Mac. I can use both partitions on a Mac. On a Windows computer, I only get an error message when I connect my USB stick. Why is that? I would like to be able to use the ExFat part on my Windows computer. Thanks!

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Felix! That's a good question. Windows should actually recognize ExFAT. What version of Windows are you using? Maybe it is not yet compatible with ExFAT? In any case, I couldn't think of any reason that could otherwise cause problems. However, I don't have a PC with which I could just check it out. :( Best regards!


  2. Stephan says:


    I have a Mac Book with the latest operating system and have the problem that I can only format my 64 GB USB stick to 32 GB. I tried all the variants. What do I have to do so that I can format the USB stick to its full format of 64 GB?

    Thank you!

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Stephan! So it is very certain that the entire stick is not created as a partition. Try not to select the partition but to select the "data carrier" with the "hard disk service program" and to create the partition again. Then hopefully he'll take the 64 GB. And it's best to format it in APFS or ExFAT (if it should also be readable on a Windows PC). VG! Jens

  3. Patrick says:

    Hi, I have a question about that
    When I format the stick, should the data I want to use for the Mac be on the stick right away or after formatting?

    • Johannes Domke says:

      Hi Patrick,
      formatting a drive erases all files on it. The required data must therefore be drawn on afterwards.
      Best regards

  4. Paul says:

    Hey, hope the feed is still being followed

    Regarding my request, the USB stick has 64 GB of storage - but I still get the error message "An error occurred while formatting the hard drive" with the words that there is insufficient storage ...

    What can I do, can't find a working solution.
    (the process runs through Boot Camp Assistant)

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Paul! There is a support article from Apple about exactly this problem:

      Accordingly, one should carry out the following step:

      1. Make sure you are using an external USB flash drive with a capacity of 16 GB or more.
      2. Install the latest macOS updates.
      3. Download the latest version of Windows 10 from Microsoft's website and use Boot Camp Assistant to install it.

      Maybe that will help you?

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