Format SSD For Mac And Windows Title Image

When you’re looking to put your new SSD portable drive onto your Mac. Yet also use the fast transfer speed of your USB flash drive on your PC.

Then you wonder how do I format an SSD for Windows and Mac? And reach out for the answer so you can use your Portable SSD on both machines.

Follow along. And in images and words find out how I get it done each and every time.

How To Format SSD For Mac And Windows

1. Log And Plug In Your Portable SSD.

2. Open Disk Utility.

3. Click On Your SSD In Disk Utility.

4. Click Erase.

5. Name Your SSD. Pick ExFAT as Format. GUID Partition Map for Scheme.

6. Click on Erase button.

Can I Format SSD For Mac And Windows?

Yes, you can format your SSD for your Mac and a Windows PC. Format your external SSD as ExFAT and use your SSD drive on both.

You can copy your files from your Mac and work on them from your PC. Do the same from your Windows PC.

As long as you have an Application on your Mac or PC that can read the file on your drive you’re good to go.

One thing.

It’s best to format the drive you plan to use on both a Mac and Windows computer on your Mac.  Even if your SSD format is ExFAT out of the box.

Mac’s are very choosy about the file system format they like to use. So if you don’t want to have the error ‘unable to read drive’ down the line. Use disk management software on your Mac and format your SSD on your Mac.

Before You Start Formatting External SSD For Mac And Windows

You’ll typically get a USB C to USB type C cable in the box with your SSD.

If you happen to have an older Mac with USB type A ports then you’ll need a USB C to type A adaptor to plug in. You may also need a self powered USB hub for your older Mac. USB type A ports were not designed for the power requirements of modern SSD’s. So, your Mac might need help powering your drive.

Plugged in?

Great. Make sure your external SSD’s USB cable is well seated into your Mac and into your drive.

In a few moments you’ll see the LED light on the drive come on and your SSD’s drive icon on your Mac’s desktop.

It’ll will look something like this.

Drive Icon Samsung T7

Opps My SSD Isn’t Showing On My Mac’s Desktop

When you’ve plugged in your SSD and you can’t see your external drive’s icon on your desktop. Then.

Open up a Finder window. Click to open Finder Settings (from Mac OS Ventura).  In earlier Mac OS releases, you’ll find it’s called Finder Preferences.

Finder Settings

Look under your Finder Settings Or Preferences General heading. And make sure there is a check mark against ‘External Disk’ in the pop up window.

Finder Settings Show External Disks

That’s the setting that says whether your Mac shows you your SSD external drive on your desktop. Or Not.

Thinking about getting yourself a new SSD?

Click on the link text to check out a Sandisk Portable Extreme. And pop on over to this review article on the site.

Ready? Now Format External SSD For Mac And Windows

Your Mac has disk management software. It’s already part of your Mac’s operating system. The software is called Disk Utility.

You’ll be using Disk Utility to format your SSD on your Mac computer.

Before you start. Take a second.

Do you have any of your own files or data you want on your drive?

If your answer is yes.

Then copy your data off somewhere safe first.

Your SSD may ship with some files already on there.

A quick copy and paste to a folder on your Mac. And you’ve got them saved if you want to use them in the future.

Because if you want that data back after you’ve formatted. Then you’ll be seeking the services of a Data Recovery company. Or buying yourself Data Recovery software.

And with no assurance you’ll recover your data.

Now you’re ready to start.

1. Open Disk Utility.

Your Mac’s disk management software, Disk Utility, lives in the Application folder on your Mac. Inside a folder called Utilities.

You can open up your Applications folder from your Mac’s Dock. Or from a Finder window.

Finder Applications Folder Utilities

Scroll down to find the Utilities folder. Click the Utilities Folder. Scroll, find and double click to start up the Disk Utility app.

Now Disk Utility is open.

Take a look down the left hand side of the window.

SanDisk Extreme Portable Internal External

Your Disk Utility window lists every storage device on your Mac computer.

And they are under two headings.

Your internal drives you’ll see under ‘Internal’

Your external drives are under ‘External’.

You’ll find your external SSD under the External drives list.

Now check you can see two levels.

SanDisk Extreme Two Levels

If not, go to the top of your Mac’s screen.

Then pick Disk Utility View. And choose ‘Show All Devices’.

SanDisk Disk Utility Show All Devices

You’ll then see all the levels you need to, to properly format your USB drive.

2. Click On Your Portable SSD.

Click your Solid State Drive at the top level.

SanDisk Extreme SSD Pick At Top Level

3. Click Erase.

SanDisk Portable Erase

Erase is what your Mac calls formatting.

You’re not actually formatting your SSD yet. Don’t worry. Next, you’ll set up how you want your SSD formatted compatible with your Mac and a Windows computer.

4. Name Your SSD And Set Your ExFAT Format.

On the pop up you give your SSD a name.

Type that in where the screen says name.

Next. Set the format as ExFAT.

Samsung t7 SSD ExFAT GUID

And the scheme as GUID partition Map.

Use the small up down arrows at the end of the Format and Scheme fields to pick these options.

Have you copied anything you want off your SSD.

If not then, stop and do that now. And then come back through the steps to here.

5. Click On The Erase Button.

Samsung T7 SSD ExFAT Erase

Click on the Erase button and your Mac will start formatting your solid state flash drive.

SanDisk Extreme SSD Formatting Done

Wait a few moments and you’ll have a formatted SSD that works on Windows and Mac.

And in a few seconds you’ll see your SSD’s drive icon on your Mac’s desktop.

6. Quit Disk Utility.

Quit the Disk Utility disk management application.

And now use your SSD.

Double click on your drive’s icon to open up a Finder window on your drive.

You can create folders as you please in that Finder window. And they are created on your drive.

You can then open another Finder window. Browse to the files you want to drag and drop. Or copy and paste your files from the Finder window on your Mac. To the Finder window on your newly formatted external SSD.

The files are now on your SSD flash drive, ready to be viewed and used on a Windows PC.

Before Plugging Out Your Solid State Drive

Always remember to right click on your external SSD. And pick Eject when your done with your drive.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Right Click Eject

Wait till your drive’s icon disappears off your Mac’s desktop.

Wait a few seconds more till your drive’s LED stops flashing. Because your Mac writes down things it has in memory for your SSD.

If there’s no flashing light on your SSD drive to tell you when that’s done.

Wait several seconds more before pulling out your USB cable.

That way you won’t risk corrupting your files on your SSD.

Then you can take your SSD to your Windows PC, plug in and use your drive there. You can copy data onto your SSD from your PC. Just be sure to Eject your drive there before you unplug your USB cable from your Windows PC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need To Format An SSD For Mac And PC?

It’s best to Yes. Even when the manufacturer delivers your SSD USB drive in ExFAT.

This is because many of the manufacturer’s formatting ship with a Master Boot Record for its scheme.

So what? You think.

A Mac will read an SSD external storage device in ExFAT. As will a PC. But a Mac likes the formatting scheme of its drives as a GUID Partition Map. Not Master Boot Record. That’s a scheme a Windows PC is happy with.

And though your Mac will read data off the drive and write data to the drive. It may well one day decide it can’t read your SSD drive any more.

And then you’ll have no choice but to take all the files off the drive and reformat. Then transfer them back onto the SSD drive.  And believe me. That’s a big pain if you’ve a lot of files and data on the drive, on a day you’ve little time or space to do it.

Format as ExFAT with a GUID Partition Map right at the start. And both your Windows PC and Mac will be happy.

Can I Use ExFAT For A Time Machine Backup?

No, your Mac will not use an SSD formatted as ExFAT for a Time Machine Backup.

If you have a large enough SSD and want to use your external SSD on a Windows PC and a Mac. As well as for a Time Machine backup then you’ll have to partition your drive.

Have a section for sharing formatted as ExFAT. Then another partition section formatted as APFS (Apple File System). And use that for your Mac Backup.

In Closing

Thank you for dropping by the site and reading to the end of this article.

While you’re here please take a look at the other recommended articles on the site around this subject.

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