How to Format Seagate Backup Plus for Mac Help! Don’t Freak Out

By Paul Gregory / September 9, 2019
How To Format Seagate Backup Plus For Mac Title Image

You’ve looked at buying a Seagate Backup Plus – Ultra Touch, Slim or Portable. But it says that it works with a Windows PC only.

You’re freaking out.

How can you make this portable external drive work with your Mac?

The answer is yes. You can.

There are two ways:

  1. Use a software driver. And you can find out about it in my article here.
  2. Or Format your Seagate Backup Plus on your Mac.

And in this article I tell you all about it.


Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Red

You can learn more about Seagate Backup Plus on this site by clicking on the picture above

How to Format your Seagate Backup Plus for Mac

Hold on!

Before you jump in and format your Seagate Backup Plus on your Mac or Macbook.  Know that formatting deletes all the information on the drive.

If you have documents on the drive either from a Windows PC or from your Mac, copy them off first. Or you will lose them.

1. Turn on your Mac. Log yourself in.

Then plug your USB cable into your Seagate Backup Plus first.

Whether you have an Ultra Touch, Slim or Portable your hard drive is powered by its USB cable.

This means that your Backup Plus takes its power from your iMac or MacBook.

And if you’re low on battery power then plug your Mac into external power. 

Put the drive on a stable safe surface before you plug it into your Mac and power it up.

These aren’t rugged drives and it’s better not to knock or shake them while they are working.

All the Seagate Backup Plus drives except the Ultra Touch come with USB A plug connections for the end that goes into your Mac.

USB A Cable End
USB A Cable End

This is fine if you have 2015 or earlier iMac or MacBook. Later MacBook’s come with USB C (3.1) or Thunderbolt connections.

USB C Cable End
USB C Cable End

And if you have a USB C port on your Mac you’ll need an adaptor cable. This adaptor cables changes the USB A end to USB C.

They are easy to get on Amazon. And if you want to stick to the Apple brand then the Apple USB-C to USB Adapter is the one to use.  Follow the link to see it on Amazon.

The Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch comes with a USB-C adaptor plug. This means that you’ll be able to plug it into an earlier or later Mac and use the adaptor if you need too.

When you’ve connected your Seagate Backup Plus Slim, Ultra Touch or Portable. Its LED light should light and the drive starts up.

2. Look for the Backup Plus external hard drive icon on your desktop.

Seagate Backup Plus Drive Icon
Seagate Backup Plus Drive Icon

Don’t see it?

Check your finder window preferences.

Open a new finder window. And then choose to see your finder window preferences.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

Click the boxes to show ‘Hard Disks’ and ‘External Disks’ on your desktop.

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

Then you’re Seagate Backup Plus will show up.

3. Open Disk Utility.

Disk Utility is the software on your Mac that will change your Seagate Backup Plus’ drive format.

You can find Disk Utility by doing a spotlight search.

Spotlight Search Symbol
Spotlight Search Symbol

The spotlight search magnifying glass is at the top of your desktop screen. Click on it there.

Then type in Disk Utility.

Disk Utility In Spotlight Search
Disk Utility In Spotlight Search

Double click on Disk Utility

4. The left side of the Disk Utility window shows you all the drives you have connected to your Mac.

Both the Internal and External drives. Your Seagate Backup Plus drive is listed under the External Drives List.

Seagate Backup Plus Internal External drive list
Seagate Backup Plus Internal External drive list

If for some reason its not there take a look at my FAQ questions at the end of this article.

Click on your Seagate Backup Plus in the External drives list.  The little arrow head to the left of your drive name will open up the different levels.

Take care to click at the top level. 

The level the yellow arrow in the picture points at.

The formatting won’t work if you click on the drive at the wrong level.

Seagate Backup Plus List Arrow

Your Disk Utility window not showing you the drive levels?

Look to the top left of your Disk Utility pop up window. Click to open up the view options.

Disk Utility View Option
Disk Utility View Option

Then select to show all devices.  That will show the drive and the volume.

5. Then take a look at the top of the Disk Utility window and click on Erase.

Select Erase
Select Erase

Concerned about clicking on Erase?

Don’t worry. Erase is the Mac’s way of reformatting your Seagate Backup Drive.  Nothing actually happens until you fill in some information on the next screen.

6. The next window is where you set up how you would like your Seagate Backup Plus formatted.

Seagate Backup Plus Format Popup
Seagate Backup Plus Format Popup

The first thing for you to do on this window is give your Seagate Backup Plus external drive a name.

It’s best to have a name that makes it easy for you to find the Backup Plus on your desktop. Or a name that tells you what you’re using this hard drive for.

Once you have typed in the name. Next set the format. Click on the up, down arrows to pick a format.

File System Formats
File System Formats

You choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) if you plan to only use the Backup Plus on your Mac.

And you want to copy and paste your documents to the Seagate drive.

This is the format you choose when you want your Seagate Backup Plus for Time Machine backups on your Mac.

If you’re planning to share the Seagate Backup Plus with a Windows PC choose ExFAT.

ExFAT is the file system format both iMac or Macbook and a Windows PC can understand and use.

But Time Machine can’t use an ExFat formatted Seagate Backup Plus drive for backup.

7. Check the Scheme says GUID Partition Map.

And then Click on Erase to begin your Backup Plus formatting.

Formatting only takes a few minutes. You’ll be surprised how quickly it finishes.

Formatting takes a little longer on a larger Seagate Backup Plus drive.

When your Backup Plus drive formatting finishes you can get rid of the Disk Utility window.

8. Your Seagate Backup Plus will be on your desktop.

As an external hard drive icon with the name you gave it.

Seagate Backup Plus Drive Icon
Seagate Backup Plus Drive Icon

Now you can use the drive. Want some pointers on how?

Have a look at my article all about how to use your Seagate Backup Plus at this link.

When You’re finished Formatting or Using Your Seagate Backup Plus

When you’re done with your Seagate drive be sure to eject the drive. Do this before unplugging your USB cable out from your Mac.

While you’re busy copying and pasting files to your Backup Plus. Or just using the drive day to day your Mac keeps some information for your drive in memory.  By ejecting you tell your Mac to write anything it is holding in memory down to your Seagate Backup Plus. Closing everything off nicely.

If you forget to do this you risk ruining the information on your drive.

You do this by right clicking on your Seagate Backup Plus on your desktop.

Right Click to Eject
Right Click to Eject

And choosing Eject from the Menu.

Wait till the drive icon has disappeared from your desktop. And the light stops flashing on your Backup Plus drive.

Then you can plug out your USB cable and put your Seagate Backup Plus Drive away. 

And now you’re done. You have found out how to format your Seagate Backup Plus in 8 easy steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Format Seagate Backup Plus – Why Would You?

Seagate Technology sells a few portable hard drives with the Backup Plus name. Only two of them, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim and the Seagate Backup Plus Portable you can buy with HFS+.

HFS+ is the file system a Mac uses.

Both the Seagate Backup Plus Slim and Backup Plus Portable have an option for NTFS as well.

The Backup Plus Ultra Touch is NTFS only.

If you’re thinking of buying a Seagate Backup Plus but it says Windows PC only. And you wonder if it would work on a Mac.

Or you may have found yourself with an NTFS Seagate Backup Plus. And you want to use it on your iMac or Macbook Pro without a special driver.

Or lift the restriction of ‘Read Only’. You want to be able to write to this drive or update file files on there.

The format steps above changes a NTFS Backup Plus to the format you want.

When do you Format Seagate Backup Plus for a Mac?

When your Seagate Backup Plus has a NTFS file system on it and you want to change to HSF+

When you want to wipe the Backup Plus drive clear of everything on it.

When you want to change the file system to ExFAT so that you can share your Backup Plus between a Mac and a PC. An ExFAT file system allows you to do that.

I Don’t Understand, What is NTFS Format on a Seagate Backup Plus

NTFS describes the Seagate Backup Plus portable’s layout. This layout is called a file system. And it’s how a Windows PC understands what’s written on and to the Backup Plus drive.

NTFS is a file system your Mac can read. You can copy files off your Backup Plus onto your Mac. But you can’t update any of the files on the drive.

Your Mac sees a Seagate Backup Plus as read only.

And you can’t use a NTFS Backup Plus as a place to store your Time Machine backups.

Luckily, you’re not stuck with that file system forever.

You can change it. And formatting it is a way you can put on a file system your Mac can read and write to.

Help! My Seagate Backup Plus Doesn’t Appear on the Desktop or in Disk Utility.

There are a few answers to this. One of these will be the issue.

1. You may have a problem with the USB software on the USB port you’re using on your Mac.  Try plugging into another port.

2. The previous device you had on that USB port may not have ejected properly.

A restart of your Mac will reset the software driver on your Mac’s USB port.

3. You might have a broken USB cable. Try a USB cable you know works.

4. Put your Backup Plus on a Windows PC to see if you can see it there. It may respond to be being formatted on a Windows PC and then your Mac can see the drive.

5. You may be unlucky and have a corrupted Seagate Backup Plus drive.

How Do I Password Protect or Encrypt the Files on My Seagate Backup Plus

When you format your Seagate Backup Plus you can choose to set up a password. You can do this as well as encrypting your portable.

You do this by clicking on the Security option. It’s on the Disk Utility window where you put in the settings for your formatting.

Seagate Backup Plus Format Security Option
Seagate Backup Plus Format Security Option

Watch Out!

You’ll find this software feature very secure on a Mac.

Even the FBI has problems accessing Mac data that has been secured.

If you lose your password you will have a sad face for a very long time.

Last Words

I hope you enjoyed my article How to Format Seagate Backup Plus for Mac Help! Don’t Freak Out.

And you stopped freaking out and you’re feeling nice and calm about it. So calm you’re going to do it on the Seagate Backup Plus you have.  Go on I dare you.

In no time you’ll have your Seagate Backup Plus working on your own Mac.

Other Seagate Documents on the site you’ll find useful

Partition Seagate Backup Plus Shape so You’ll Love it on Mac

Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine, the Smart Way to Backup

Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Review Protect Your Family’s Docs

Seagate Expansion VS Backup Plus Who is on Top For Mac




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