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 get your Western Digital My Passport drive working.

In 10 quick steps you’ll find out how to format WD Passport for Mac.

You’ll get helpful images.

Plus a video that you can watch as extra help.

An extra bonus for when you’re desperate to know …

You’ll also find out how to reformat WD My Passport for Mac.

The Steps: How To Format WD My Passport For Mac

If you need to know how to Format WD Passport for your Mac computer. MacBook, MacBook Pro or iMac.

Or you need to reformat My Passport for Mac.

You follow the same steps.

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.

1. First Power Up Your Mac.

Log in and connect up your WD My Passport drive.

Not sure how to this?

Then head to the document how to use WD My Passport for Mac and find out how.

2. Look For Your WD Hard 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 show up. Open up a new Finder window.

Then choose Finder Setttings (from Mac OS Ventura). In earlier Mac releases it’s called Preferences.

Finder Settings

Make sure you check the ‘External Disk’ box.

It’s under the General heading.

Finder Settings Show External Disks

Your WD My Passport drive for Mac should now be there on your desktop.

3. Next 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 Portable 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
Yellow Arrow Shows Where

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

What if it isn’t there?

Sometime the software on the USB port hangs. You can clear this by.

Plugging out your My Passport drive.

Then shutdown and restart of your Mac. That should sort it out.

5. Pick Your WD Drive In The External Hard Drive List.

Be sure you’re selecting your My Passport drive.

An Important To Do.

You need to select your Passport drive at the top level.

You can have problems formatting WD Passport for Mac if you don’t. Pick your drive at the right level.

It’s worth you double checking.

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

The arrow in the picture above shows 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 pick 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 Click 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.

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 APFS (Apple File System).

Since the MacOS Big Sur operating system version release, you can pick APFS. Although it’s a file system designed for a solid state drive (SSD). It will run nicely on hard drives too.

Just don’t use on operating systems earlier than Big Sur if you plan to use your drive for a Time Machine backup.

You can pick Mac OS Extended (Journaled) when you want compatibility with Macs running an older operating system.

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.

WD My Passport File System Formats
File System Formats

Next you choose your Scheme. 

Pick “GUID Partition Map” for scheme.

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

8. 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 MacOS 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

Video Credit: Tech & Design

Some Useful Advice Before You Format WD My Passport For Mac

Who Are These Formatting WD My Passport For Mac Steps For?

These steps are for you if you have MacOS Sierra on your Mac.

All the way through to later MacOS versions like Big Sur.

If you’re running an earlier release of MacOS than Sierra.

Then you’ll find that the steps to format My Passport for Mac are the same.

Your menus may look a bit different so bear that in mind.

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.

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’ on a Mac.

And this means you just plug you ‘for Mac’ external hard drive into your Mac. And use the drive.

You’ll likely 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 … And give you issues, if it’s not formatted by a Mac.

You’ll find a review article here on the site that goes into more detail on the WD My Passport for Mac.

WD My Passport Black

Why not take a look?

Why Copy Off Any Files On Your Western Digital My Passport Drive?

Because when you format or reformat your My Passport For Mac you’ll lose any files on the drive.

Check because when you buy your My Passport.

It’s formatted as an NTFS drive. And it’s pre loaded with Windows PC software.

The software is for. And works on a Windows PC.

But if you plan on using that software in the future.

Then save it by copying it if off onto a Windows PC first.

Then you’re free to format your drive.

Or if you’ve put some of your personal files on the drive. Before you decided to format your Western Digital My Passport for your Mac.

And you want those files.

Then you’ll need to copy them off first before your format. Put them onto a Windows PC.

Or you’ll be in a world of trouble.

Because after formatting they’ll be gone.

Ahead of Formatting: What Do You Plan To Use Your WD External Hard 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.

You’ll find a document on the site 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 intention 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 lose all you have on there.

So think about getting a second external 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 MaOS for encrypting your hard drive. And to use MacOS to add a password.


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.

MacOS 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?

MacOS Sierra and some of the later versions of MacOS. Sometimes produce 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 meantime 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 MacOS 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 the resources section below to see the discussion threads.

5. Can Reformatting Clean Up A Western Digital Hard Drive?

Yes, if you’re having problems with disk errors on your drive. Then reformatting will take any bad sectors you have on your drive out of use.

Remember that formatting will wipe your data as well. So copy anything you want off first. Then reformat to clean up those bad sectors of your disk.

WD My Passport Erase Failed Extra Resources

Apple thread on High Sierra Problems

Mac Rumors thread on High Sierra Problems

Related Articles

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

How To Transfer Files To WD My Passport From Mac [Now]

Do feel free to check them out.


  1. Thank you so much for your detailed post. This helped me imensly with formating my Passport as I have been struggling to transfer data from one to another without realising that the format is not compatible with the system.. Thank you!

    1. Hi Julia, Thank you for leaving a comment. I’m so glad your struggles are over.

Comments are closed.