How to Format a Seagate Hard Drive for Mac. It’s Simple

By Paul Gregory / October 6, 2019
How to Format A Seagate Hard Drive For Mac Title Image

Looking for simple straight forward help on how to format your Seagate hard drive for your Mac?

Because you just want to get your Mac’s backup done.

Or you need your drive to free up space on your Mac.

Or download that mass of photos because you don’t want to pay for any more cloud storage. Then you can have your photos at home. Without the worry of someone breaking into your cloud storage.

Read on for your simple, easy to follow instructions.

Want a high level view? Here is what you’re going to do when you format your Seagate External hard drive for your Mac.

1. Log in. Plug your Seagate drive into your Mac.

2. Spotlight search Disk Utility. Press return.

3. Pick your Seagate drive under External on the left.

4. Click on Erase at the top.

5. Give your Seagate drive a name. Pick your Format from the menu.

6. Pick GUID Partition Map for Scheme.

7. Click Erase bottom Right to Format.

How to Format a Seagate Hard Drive for Mac

Just one moment.

Before you go ahead and format your Seagate external hard drive on your MacBook or iMac. Ask yourself if there any files on there you want.

Because formatting means you won’t be able to get to any of those files on the drive once you have formatted it.

If you know there are files on your Seagate external drive then copy them somewhere safe first. Then you can go ahead and format.

An example of the kind of files you may have on your Seagate drive are the ones Seagate put on there when you buy.

They are the files that allow you to register your Seagate external hard drive for warranty. And download some of Seagate Technology’s own software tools.  

The Simple and Easy Steps to Formatting your Seagate Drive on Your Mac

1. Log into your Mac. And Plug in your Seagate Drive.

Your Seagate external hard drive unless it’s one of Seagate‘s desktop drives. Takes it’s juice, its power from your Mac, along its USB cable.

And that means you’ll need enough battery power in your MacBook Pro or Air to drive the Seagate drive.

Even if you think your Mac has enough battery power. Plug your Mac in. Because you won’t want your Mac’s battery running out of power. And doing that part way through formatting your Seagate drive.

Formatting a desktop Seagate external drive? Then plug in its power cable to power it up.

Depending on the Seagate drive you have you may need an adaptor cable to plug into your Mac’s USB port.

Not sure what you might need? Then go over to my document here that walks you through the different generations of Macs. Their USB ports and the type of USB adaptor you need to look for.

When you’re plugged in and powered up your Mac will show the Seagate’s drive icon on your desktop.

Seagate Backup Plus Drive Icon

If for some reason you can’t see it. Take a look at your finder window preferences.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

Open a finder window. And go to your preferences.

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

Make sure the boxes show ‘Hard Disks’ and ‘External Disks’ on your desktop are checked.

2. Spotlight Search Disk Utility.

You’ve free software on your Mac. It’s part of your Mac’s operating system. And that software will format your Seagate drive for you.  That software is called Disk Utility.

You find it by doing a Spotlight search.

Click on the Spotlight icon at the top of your Mac’s desktop screen.

Spotlight Search Symbol
Spotlight Search Symbol

Then type in ‘Disk Utility’ and press the return key.

Format Seagate Spotlight Search Disk Utility

Double click on Disk Utility to start up the program.

3. Pick your Seagate Drive Under External.

Once Disk Utility has started up you’ll see its pop up window.

On the left hand side of the pop up window you’ll see a list. 

Disk Utility shows you in this list your attached internal and external drives.

Your Seagate external drive will be listed under ‘External’. 

Seagate Internal External Drive List
Seagate Internal External Drive List Circled in Yellow

Click on your Seagate drive in the list.  The yellow arrow on the photo below shows you where.

Select Seagate Expansion at the Right Level
Select Seagate external hard drive at the Right Level

It’s important that you pick your Seagate drive at the right level. Or your formatting may not work.

You may need to expand the list to see the levels. You do that by clicking on the down arrow to the left of the drive icon on the list.

No List? Nothing under external? You’ll need to change your view.

At the top left of your Disk Utility pop up window you’ll see View.

Disk Utility View Option
Disk Utility View Option

Open up the view menu. On the view menu pick to to show all devices.  That will show the drive and the volume.

4. Click on Erase at the Top.

At the top of your Disk Utility pop up window you’ll find the Erase button. Click on that.

Select Erase
Select Erase

Only click on the Erase button after you’ve clicked on your Seagate drive at the top level.

This will take you to the next pop up window. There you’ll set up how you want to format your Seagate hard drive for your Mac.

5. Give your Seagate hard drive a Name

Now you put in the details for your drive’s format.

Seagate Expansion Format Pop up
Seagate Format Pop up

Choose and put in a name on the menu where it says Name.

This is the name your Mac will show on your desktop under the drive’s icon.

Next pick the format.

You have a few options here.

Then pick Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

This is the format you choose when you want to to copy and paste your files. Or drag and drop your files to your Seagate hard drive.

This is the format your Mac wants to use when you do a Time Machine Backup.

Then pick ExFAT. You can drag and drop your files. Copy and paste your files.

But you can’t use an ExFAT formatted external hard drive for a Time Machine backup.

Don’t choose FAT32 unless you have to. It’s an old MSDOS file system.

FAT32 is less robust and has file size restrictions. You wouldn’t choose it unless you had to.  Say if you were using your Seagate hard drive for a device that will only talk to FAT32.

The new Apple file system is for Solid State Drives.  It can’t be used for a Time Machine backup. But you could choose it if you were formatting a Seagate SSD drive.

Pick your Format option.

You choose from a list that you open up using the up/down arrows at the end of the Format field.

File System Formats
File System Formats

6. Pick GUID Partition Map for Scheme

The next option you choose when formatting your Seagate hard drive for Mac is Scheme. 

Pick GUID Partition Map.

This is the scheme your Mac likes to use. It doesn’t matter if you’ve picked Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or an ExFAT format or APFS. You Pick GUID Partition Map.

7. Click Erase Bottom Right

Set your formatting options. And when you click on the Erase button at the bottom right of the window you’ll kick off the formatting.

Seagate Format Pop up Pick Erase
Pick Erase

In a few moments the formatting of your Seagate External Hard drive on your Mac will be all done.

When Disk Utility is finished you can get rid of your Disk Utility window.

And in a few moments your Mac will show your Seagate external hard drive on your Mac’s desktop.

Eject your Seagate Hard Drive When You’re Finished

After you have copied what you want to your Seagate drive. Or used it for a Time Machine backup. Be sure to Eject your Seagate drive before you pull your USB cable.

Your Mac keeps stuff in its memory while you’re using your Seagate drive.  Ejecting tells your Mac to copy everything in memory down to your Seagate.

And then it’s safe to plug out your USB cable.

You Eject the drive my hovering your cursor over the drive icon on your Mac’s desktop. Right click. And choose Eject from the menu that comes up.

Right Click to Eject
Right Click to Eject

In a couple of moments your Seagate’s drive Icon goes from your desktop and you take out the drive’s USB Cable.

And that’s it you’ve learnt how to format a Seagate hard drive for Mac.

YouTube Video Showing Formatting a Seagate Hard Drive for Mac

Would you like to see a video showing you how to format your Seagate drive? Take a look at this video. In total it’s nearly 13 minutes.

But if you’re only formatting your Seagate drive for Mac, you’ll see all you need to know in the first 3 minutes.

Seagate External hard Drive How to Setup on Mac

Video Credit: Tech & Design




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