Format WD My Passport for Mac, 10 Quick Steps

By Simon Irons / September 10, 2019
Format WD My Passport For Mac Title Image

You’re mad as hell because your new WD My Passport drive is ‘read only’ on your Mac.

Right now it’s less use than a brick.

You just want the thing to work on your Mac.

Don’t worry it’s quick to do. And in 10 quick steps I’ll tell you how to format WD Passport for Mac.

Or if you’re desperate to know how to reformat WD My Passport for Mac.

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Formatting Your WD My Passport for Your Mac

If you want to get on with formatting your WD My Passport on your Mac, you’ll find the step by step walk through just below.

Underneath the quick guide you’ll find some advice.

Advice you’ll find useful ahead of formatting your My Passport drive on your Mac. If you have time they are worth a read. 

Who are these Steps for?

These steps are for you if you have Mac OS Sierra operating system on your Mac. Or later OS versions.

For earlier releases of Mac OS, you find that the steps are the same. Your screens menus may look a bit different so bear that in mind.

One more thing before you go through the steps of how to format My Passport for Mac.

Formatting your WD My Passport will erase any documents you have on the drive. If you have files on the My Passport drive and you want to keep them. Copy them off first.

A for instance for you.

When you buy your My Passport NTFS drive it’s pre loaded with Windows PC software. The software is for and works on a Windows PC.

If you plan on using that software, copy if off onto a Windows PC first. Then you’re free to format your drive.

Or if you have some of your personal files on the drive, You’ll need to copy them off first onto a Windows PC.

Or you’ll be in a world of trouble. Because they’ll be gone.

The Steps: How to Format WD My Passport for Mac

Whether you need to know how to Format WD My Passport For your Mac. Or you need to reformat My Passport for Mac.

You follow the same steps.

You’ll find below the ten quick steps, using words and pictures. There is a video after that you can watch as extra help.

1. First power up your Mac.

Log in and connect up your WD My Passport drive.

Not sure how to this? Then go to my document here and find out how

2. Look for your WD My Passport drive on Your Desktop

Your WD My Passport drive will appear as an icon on your desktop.

External Drive Icon On Desktop
External Drive Icon on Desktop

If for some reason your My Passport drive doesn’t appear. Open up a new Finder window.

Then choose Finder Preferences.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

Make sure the check boxes ‘Hard Disk’ and ‘External Disk’ are chosen.

Finder Preferences Show External Drive
Finder Preferences pick to Show External Drive

Your WD My Passport drive for Mac should now show up on your desktop.

3. Start up the Disk Utility application.

Don’t know how to start Disk Utility?

You can find Disk Utility by clicking on spotlight search.

Spotlight Search Symbol
Spotlight Search Symbol

Type in Disk Utility and then double click.

Disk Utility In Spotlight Search
Disk Utility In Spotlight Search

4. Find your WD My Passport Drive in the List.

You’ll see on the left hand side of the Disk Utility pop up window your Internal and External hard drives in a list.

Internal and External Drives List
Internal and External Drives List

Clicking the arrow by the headings will expand or contract the list.

List Arrow

You’ll find your WD My Passport drive under the “External” heading on this list.

If it hasn’t appeared, it may well be that your Mac’s USB port is confused. Plug out your My Passport drive. Then a shutdown and restart of your Mac should sort that out.

5. Pick your WD My Passport in the external hard drive list.

Be sure you’re selecting your My Passport drive.

An important point. You need to select your Passport drive at the top level. You can have problems formatting WD Passport for Mac if you don’t. Select it at the right level. Double check.

Select Drive At The Right Level
Select Drive At The Right Level

The arrow in the picture above show you where.

If not you’re having problems.

Look at the top left of your Disk Utility pop up window for the ‘View’ option.

Open up the menu.

Disk Utility View Option
Disk Utility View Option

You’ll need to choose show all devices.  To show the drive and the volume.

Now you have picked your My Passport drive at the top level. Then.

6. Look to the top of your Disk Utility window and select Erase.

You may be put off by this. Don’t be. It doesn’t matter if you format or reformat My Passport for Mac. Erase is the option you use.

There is no issue as long as you have copied off any files you want to keep.

Select Erase
Select Erase

7. Set up the Format You Want on your My Passport Drive.

On the next pop up window you set up how you’d like to format for your Mac.

WD My Passport Set Format Popup
WD My Passport Set the Format Popup

First give your My Passport drive a name.

You’ll find it helpful to give your drive a name to reflect what you’re going to use the drive for.

Next set the format.

The up and down arrows to the right hand side of the format option allows you to choose a format.

Pick Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

This is the file system you’ll need for your Passport drive to work on your Mac.

It’s what you’ll need for copying and pasting your documents to the drive. And for using your WD My Passport on your Mac for backup with Time Machine.

File System Formats
File System Formats

8. Once you’ve put in a name and selected your format.

Click on Erase.

The formatting of your My Passport external hard drive then starts.

You’ll find the formatting takes a few seconds. Or perhaps a minute or two depending on the size of your WD My Passport drive.

9. Once you’ve done your formatting.

Dismiss your Disk Utility screen.

Your newly formatted WD My Passport drive icon should show up on your desktop. And your WD My Passport is ready for your Mac to use.

Formatted WD My Passport Drive on Desktop
Formatted WD My Passport Drive on Desktop

10. When you’re finished using your My Passport drive.

Always remember to Eject.

You’ll need to do this before you pull out the USB cable.

To Eject your WD My Passport drive from your Mac.

You do this by right clicking on your WD My Passport icon on your desktop. Then you select Eject from the menu.

Right Click to Eject External Drive
Right Click to Eject External Drive

And there you have it, you’ve formatted your WD My Passport for Mac in 10 quick steps.

YouTube Video Showing the Format of WD My Passport for Mac

This video from Acquevara shows you the formatting on a Mac using Mac OS Sierra. You can watch the video along side using my notes above for extra help.

WD My Passport External Hard-drive Set Up Guide for Mac

Images and Video Credit: Acquevara

Some Useful Advice Before you Format WD My Passport For Mac

Do you need to Format WD Passport for Mac?

It depends.

There are two types of the WD My Passport drive.

WD My Passport the NTFS Version

Is NTFS preformatted and is simply called simply WD My Passport.

And often it is the cheapest version of the WD My Passport external drives to buy.

So What?

NTFS is designed to plug into a Windows PC. 

A Windows PC understands it and you can copy your documents on to it. And off.

WD My Passport Blue
WD My Passport Blue

Your Mac can read a WD My Passport drive in NTFS format. But you can’t update any of the documents on the drive. Or copy new documents onto the drive using your Mac.

You’ll need to format the drive to be able to drag and drop files. Or copy and paste files. Or use the drive for a Time Machine backup.

And you only need to follow the 10 steps above.

WD My Passport For Mac Version

The other type of WD My Passport hard drive comes in a ‘for Mac’ version.

This means your new My Passport is formatted to HFS+ (Hierarchical File System).

HFS+ and Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system are one and the same thing. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system is how it’s referred to on your Mac. And you’ll see that name within your Mac’s menus.

WD My Passport for Mac is made to be ‘plug and play’.

Plug the external hard drive into your Mac and use the drive.

You’ll probably pay extra for this preformatting convenience.

And sometimes you’ll find that you end up reformatting anyway. Because.

Well a Mac is a Mac and is sometimes precious about its external hard drive. Your Mac may prefer the drive formatted by a Mac …

WD My Passport Black
WD My Passport for Mac Black

I have a review article here on the site that goes into more detail on the WD My Passport for Mac. Why not take a look.

Ahead of Formatting: What do you plan to use your WD My Passport Drive For?

Pause a few minutes. Before you go ahead and format your shiny new drive, think about your planned use.

For example are you thinking of:

  • A place to save your documents?
  • Using the My Passport drive as your Time Machine backup disk?
  • Do you plan to share files with Mac and a Windows PC?

Then you’ll need your My Passport drive in the right format.

I have a document for you. “Easily Use Your WD My Passport For Mac And Windows in 7 Steps” head over and have a read.

Format so that you Can Save Your Mac Files on WD My Passport

You can drag and drop. And copy and paste files from your Mac’s internal drive to your WD My Passport Drive.

Once you have it in a format your Mac can read.

Remember though, if your intension is to free up space on your Mac. And the only copy of your documents now lives on your My Passport drive. What will you do if something happens to your My Passport drive?

You would loose all you have on there.

So think about getting a second external hard drive. Just in case.

You may want to check this document out “How to Use WD My Passport For Mac 5 Ways No Anger“. To find out the different ways you can use your formatted My Passport Drive on your Mac.

One other thing.

Formatting uses up space on any hard drive. When you work out how much space you’ll need and your total figures are close to the hard drive capacity. You should think of buying the next size drive up.

That way you’ll make sure you have the room you need.

Format Before Partitioning WD My Passport for Mac

Would you like to create some partitions on your My Passport drive?

Now that you have your WD My passport formatted for Mac you can take a look at my article. It tells you all about partitioning your WD My Passport drive.

Format WD My Passport on Mac Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I format my WD My Passport Drive for Resale?

You should be aware that:

The formatting procedure above will not stop someone using specialized data recovery software. And use that software to recover your documents from your old My Passport hard drive.

If you’re planning on reselling your My Passport drive you’ll need the formatting to go deeper.

When You Format Your My Passport Drive you Should;

In Disk Utility when you select the erase option.  

Click on the security button.

Format Security Options buttons
Format Security Options Button

Select one of the security options there. And format your WD Passport drive using one of those options. It could take several hours to fully write over the drive.

It’ll be worth it.

As you’ll erase as much of your data as possible.

And at least you can rest easier. And know it will take way more effort to recover anything from your sold My Passport hard drive.

2. How to set up encryption and a password to secure your My Passport hard drive.

WD My Passport has 256-bit AES hardware encryption. Along with password protection for the drive. The WD Security software controls and manages the hardware encryption.

You won’t find a copy of the WD Security software on the WD My Passport – non Mac.

But you can download the Mac version direct from the Western Digital website.

You might not want to when I describe a possible situation. And prefer to use the options provided by Mac OS for encrypting your hard drive. And to use Mac OS to add a password.

Why?

Because, without the WD Security software installed. And accessible by your Mac, you can’t get to your documents on your My Passport drive.

Plus when you share your My Passport drive between several Macs, the software must be on those Macs as well.

Let me paint a situation for you.

Imagine your Mac has failed. And you’re desperate for your backup. But wait the backup you need is on the My Passport drive. And to get to that backup you need the WD Security software installed.

But your Mac is wiped. You need your Mac’s backup to get to the WD security software.

You see the problem?

You’re then in an almighty bind. And this exact situation has happened.

Mac OS will always recognize its own encryption and password methods.

You can encrypt your data. And set a password by selecting Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted) file system.

File System Formats
File System Formats

3. WD My Passport Erase Process Failed Error. What now?

Mac OS Sierra has a habit of sometimes producing this error.

Erase Process Failed
Erase Process Failed

It could be a Mac process is accessing the hard drive causing this error.

Check Time Machine auto backup is selected off.

Time Machine Auto Backup
Time Machine Auto Backup

Uncheck the check box and try again.

Often simply retrying the formatting clears the problem.

4. You’re having problems formatting an external hard drive since upgrading to High Sierra.

There have been quite a lot of discussions on various forums with many people having problems formatting hard drives. And this follows an upgrade to Mac OS High Sierra.

I am sure Apple will produce a fix soon. But in the mean time to format My Passport for Mac try these suggestions.

a. If the My Passport hard drive icon doesn’t appear on the desktop when you plug in. Go to Disk Utility and expand the external hard drive list there (step 4 above). If your My Passport drive shows up in the list go ahead and format.

b. Use a Windows PC to format your WD My Passport drive first to ExFAT. Then try again on the Mac.

c. Use a Mac with an older release of Mac OS to format your WD Passport drive.

d. Download the WD Discovery software for Mac from the Western Digital site. This software allows you to check the disk health and you can format to HFS using that software.

There are other options which are more complex if the above has not worked for you. Check out my resources section below to see the discussion threads.

WD My Passport Erase Failed Additional Resources

Apple thread on High Sierra Problems

Mac Rumors thread on High Sierra Problems

You’ll find other documents on the site about the WD My Passport external hard drive.

WD Elements VS My Passport Which is Best for Your Mac?

WD My Passport Time Machine Insider Need to Knows

Do feel free to check them out.