How to Format a Hard Drive in Mac OS X

By Jay White

May 2, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

The Mac OS X operating system is designed to make formatting the hard drive easy, quick and painless. The disk utility application includes tools and settings that are user-friendly even for Mac beginners. This program is located under “Applications,” and you can always take a shortcut by typing it into the Mac Spotlight search feature at the very top right-hand corner of the screen.

<strong>Step One: Locate the Hard Drive</strong>

If you’re formatting an external hard drive, plug it in and give your Mac a minute to recognize it. Navigate to and open the disk utility. All available drives should be listed in the left-hand panel. Select the one you want to format from this list, and then you’re ready to move to the “Erase” tool.

<strong>Step Two: Navigate to the Erase Panel</strong>

Click “Erase” on the horizontal panel of the disk utility window. You have the chance to rename your hard drive during this step if you prefer to do so. Before clicking “erase,” you also have the option to make the hard drive recoverable under the disk utility’s security settings.

<strong>Step Three: Select the Volume Format</strong>

In the newest versions of Mac OS X, you can pick from several volume formats for your newly formatted hard drive. These formats include:

<li>MS-DOS (FAT)</li>
<li>Mac OS Extended </li>
<li>Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive)</li>
<li>Mac OS Extended (Journaled)</li>
<li>Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive and Journaled)</li>
Once you’ve made this selection and renamed your hard drive, you can specify the security options before clicking “Erase.”

<strong>Step Four: Pick the Formatting Security Options</strong>

Mac OS has several options as far as what to do with your data once the drive is formatted. You can opt to format without erasing, format with all your data rewritten one time or format with everything erased multiple times over. The last option is the best one for securing your sensitive information against outsiders’ future attempts to access it. It does take longer for the whole process to complete, so it’s a trade-off when it comes to this option for formatting your Mac OS X hard drive.

Jay White

I started Dumb Little Man many years ago so great authors, writers and bloggers could share their life "hacks" and tips for success with everyone. I hope you find something you like!

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