Format WD Drive For Mac Title Image

Can you use your WD drive on Mac?

Yes, you can. Any Western Digital (WD) drive will work on your Mac. As long as you can connect it.

And you won’t need any extra software when formatting WD drive for Mac.

So easy you’ll think it’s silly you didn’t do it before.

Because your Mac comes with its own disk management software – Disk Utility.

And after you’ve formatted your WD drive you can use it just like an internal drive on your Mac.

How To Format WD Drive For Mac

1. Connect Your WD drive to your Mac.

2. Start Disk Utility.

3. Click your WD drive in Disk Utility. Click Erase.

4. Pick the format. Pick GUID for Scheme.

5. Click Erase button.

Read on for the full story …

YouTube Video On Formatting WD Drive On Mac

Would you also like to watch a YouTube video showing you how to format your WD external drive?

Then this 2 minute 52 second video is for you.

Video Credit: MacTakeAwayData

Prep Before Formatting A WD External Drive For Mac

If your drive is a drive like a WD Elements, or WD My Passport hard drive. You’ll find in the box with your WD hard drive a USB cable with a type A connection on the end that plugs into your Mac.

And when your Mac is a modern Mac. iMac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. It’ll have a USB C port. You’ll need to get yourself a USB type A to C adaptor cable.

Other WD drive’s like the WD My Passport for Mac come with a USB adaptor cable in the box for USB C Mac’s.

Western Digital SSD drives like the G-Drive SSD come with a USB C port and cable ready for your new Mac.

Turn on your Mac, log in and use the right cable to connect your WD drive.

When you’ve plugged in your drive you should see the drive’s icon on your Mac’s desktop.

WD Elements Drive Icon

No WD External Drive Icon On Your Desktop?

Check your Finder window Settings (Mac OS Ventura). In earlier Mac releases it’s called Preferences.

Open a new Finder window. Look at the top of your Mac’s desktop and from the menu pick Settings or Preferences.

Finder Settings

Go to the General tab.

And there put a check in the ‘External Disks’ box.

Finder Settings Show External Disks

Now you’re ready to format your drive on Mac.

How To Format WD Hard Drive For Mac

A Quick Warning: Formatting your WD hard drive. Or SSD drive wipes everything on the drive.

Certain drives come with WD Discovery installation files.

And if you want to use the Western Digital software you’ll need to copy those files somewhere safe.

Copy off any important files you’ve put on the drive. And do that before you format.

Or you’ll be needing the services of a data recovery company. Or data recovery software to recover data.

WD Elements Files On NTFS Drive

1. Connect Your WD Drive To Your Mac

Before you format wd external hard drive for Mac. Log into your Mac. And plug your Western Digital drive into your Mac’s USB port.

Wait till your external drive’s disk icon show up on your Mac’s desktop.

2. Start Disk Utility.

To open Disk Utility. You can spotlight search for the program.

Spotlight Search Symbol

You’ll find spotlight search at the top of your Mac’s desktop. Click on spotlight search and type in Disk Utility. Double click to start it up.

Disk Utility In Spotlight Search

By the way you can find the Disk Utility program in your Mac’s Applications folder. Inside the Utilities folder.

3. Click Your WD drive in Disk Utility. Click Erase.

When Disk Utility opens up look to the left hand side of the pop up window.

There you’ll see two headings. Internal and External. You won’t be touching anything under the internal heading. That’s your Mac’s internal drive.

An internal hard drive if you’ve an older Mac. Internal SSDs on a new Mac computer.

WD Elements Disk Utility External Drive

First check that you can see 2 levels for your Western Digital drive.

To do that. At the top of your Mac’s desktop click on the View option. And from the drop down menu choose the option to Show All Devices.

WD Elements Disk Utility View

It’s crucial that you do this so that you can select your WD external hard drive. Or SSD correctly. You’ll get all sorts of issues with formatting your external drive down the line if you don’t.

Then look for your WD external drive under the ‘External’ heading.

And click on your drive at the top level.

If the external drive list isn’t expanded. Click the small arrow to the left your WD drive.

Then look across the top of the Disk Utility pop up window. And click Erase from the button bar.

Select Erase

Erase is what your Mac calls formatting your WD drive. But don’t worry you’re not formatting quite yet. There are a couple more settings you need set up for your wd external hard drive. Or SSD.

4. Pick The format. Pick GUID For Scheme.

After clicking on Erase the popup window changes. Here is where you set up how you want your WD external hard drive formatted.

Give your drive a name. Put the name in the name field.

The Format field is where you set your format. And you’ve several options.

The up down arrows at the end of the field expands to a list. And from there you can pick the file format you want.

WD Elements Disk Utility Formatting
Choose file format:
  • APFS (Apple File System). It’s good for a drive you can copy and paste your files to. Apple made this file system particularly for SSD drives. To performs well with SSD drives. But APFS will also work for a WD hard drive.
  • You can also use an APFS WD drive for a Time Machine backup. But only since the Mac OS x update to Big Sur.
  • Mac OS Extended (Journaled). For a drive you can copy and paste to. Drag and drop your files to. And if you want your WD drive for a Time Machine backup. (For Mac OS releases earlier than Mac OS Ventura.)

If you’re formatting your WD external hard drive. Or SSD drive for a Mac running an earlier Mac operating system. Mac OS Mojave or earlier. Don’t choose APFS pick Mac OS extended Journaled.

  • ExFAT. You’d choose for a WD external drive you plan on sharing between a Mac and a Windows PC. Both operating systems can read and write files from an ExFAT drive. But you can’t use an ExFAT WD drive for a Time Machine backup.
WD Easystore File System Formats

No matter which of the above formats you choose. Pick GUID Partition Map for the Scheme.

Apple Partition Map you only use for very old Apple power PC based Mac’s.

5. Click The Erase Button.

Check your settings. Make sure you’re happy with them. Then click the Erase button bottom right of the Disk Utility pop up window.

Then your Mac will start formatting your WD external hard drive. Or external WD SSD drive.

Your Mac will take a few moments formatting your WD drive.

Then exit Disk Utility when you’re done.

Your WD external drive will show up on your desktop as a drive icon. And you’ll see it on your Mac’s desktop with the name you gave it.

It’ll be written under the icon.

To Start Using Your Western Digital Drive On Your Mac

It’s easy. You simply double click on the WD drive icon on your desktop.

That opens up a new Finder window on the drive.

And then you can create folders. Copy and paste your files from your Mac’s internal drive to your WD formatted drive. Or drag and drop files to it.

And if you want you can connect your Western Digital hard drive. Or SSD to Time Machine for a Time Machine backup.

When you’re finished using your WD drive eject it properly from your Mac. Before you plug it’s USB cable out.

That way you don’t risk corrupting the files on your disk.

To do this. Right click on your WD external drive icon.

Pick Eject from the menu. Then wait till the drive icon disappears from your Mac’s desktop. Wait a few moments longer. Then you can disconnect your USB cable.

WD Elements Right Click Eject

Do You Need To Format A WD External Drive For Mac?

WD does sell some external drives as ‘For Mac’. Those drives some plug and play ready for a Mac.

But even with those ‘For Mac’ drives. You may well be better formatting them on your Mac. As Mac’s can be choosy about their drives.

And sometimes the from Western Digital formatting doesn’t work well. And you get odd problems with the drive.

The majority of drives Western Digital sells are in a format called NTFS. The NTFS format is made for a Windows computer.

Your Mac can read an NTFS drive but can’t write to it. So, you can’t use those drives to put your Mac files onto. Or for a Time Machine backup.

In Closing

Now you know how to format Western Digital hard drive for Mac. And the steps work the same for a WD external SSD drive on Mac.

And you’ve learnt that the WD hard drive format for Mac is Mac OS Extended Journaled, APFS (Apple File System) or ExFAT.

While you’re here. Do take a look at our other Western Digital external drive articles.

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Format WD External Hard Drive For Mac And PC


  1. Your instructions on formatting a WD external hard drive were the best instructions on anything computer-related that I’ve seen! Extraordinary! Thanks!

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