Formatting a Hard Drive for the Mac

By Ken Stone

You have just purchased a brand new hard drive for your Mac. It could be an internal drive but most likely it is an external hard drive that has Firewire 400, Firewire 800, USB 2 or eSATA ports on the back for connectivity to your Mac. When you purchased the drive, the sales person told you that it was Mac compatible, just plug it in and go to work.

You can plug this new drive into your Mac and 'go to work', but this does not mean that the drive is setup in the best manner for the Mac. It could be formatted as 'FAT 32', a format that will run on both Macs and PCs, but does have limitations. Considering that you'll be using this drive for years and that you may be using it to store valuable information, I would suggest that you spend a few minutes to reformat and test the drive using the Mac Disk Utility to be sure that you get off to the best start.

For this article I am going to work with an old LaCie external Firewire drive that I have wiped clean. When I plug it into my Mac, the hard drive icon mounts on the desktop. In this case it is named 'Untitled', but could have any name.

We want to the launch the Disk Utility application which is found in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder on your Macintosh Hard Drive. read more...

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