You’ve got yourself an SSD (Solid State Drive). And now you need to know how to format your drive for your Mac.
Fear not. We have you covered.
Regardless of the format your drive is in right now within 5 minutes you can have it formatted for your Mac. Read on below.
In a Jiff: How To Format SSD For Mac
1. Plug In your SSD.
2. Start Disk Utility.
3. Find your SSD in the Disk Utility list.
4. Click on your SSD. And click Erase.
5. Name your SSD. Pick APFS for Format and GUID Partition Map for Scheme.
6. Then click on Erase.
Now you’ll find a fuller explanation with images.
Format SSD For Mac
Caution: Understand formatting your SSD wipes your drive clean.
If there is any file of value on the drive you want. Copy it off somewhere safe first.
Many drives come with manufacturer installed software on it.
If you think you’ll want to use that software in the future. Copy it off somewhere save first before you format. Or you’ll be needing the services of a Data Recovery company.
1. Log In And Plug In Your External SSD.
Sign into your Mac computer. Then plug your Solid State Drive into one of your Mac’s USB ports.
When you plug in your SSD your Mac will see your drive is connected. Then you’ll see your drive’s SSD icon on the desktop.
It’ll look something like the icon below.
If you’ve never formatted an SSD on your Mac before. And you’ve waited a while and no SSD icon shows up.
Then you’ll need to go into Finder Settings (Mac OS Ventura and above). In earlier Mac OS releases, it’s called Finder Preferences.
And make sure the box “External Disk” is checked on the General tab.
2. Start Disk Utility.
You format your external SSD with the disk management software Disk Utility on your Mac.
Not sure how to find Disk Utility?
It’s in your Applications folder.
You find the Applications folder by clicking on the folder in a Finder window.
Inside the Applications folder look for another folder called Utilities.
Click to open that folder. Select Disk Utility in there.
Double Click to start up the program.
3. Click On Your SSD In Disk Utility.
Look at the left hand of your Disk Utility window and you’ll see two lists. Internal and External.
Under Internal are all the internal drives on your MacBook Pro. Air or other Mac.
The heading below those internal drives is External.
Your External SSD will be on that list.
You should see two entries for it. A 1st level and a 2nd level.
If you can only see the one level like in the picture below you’ll need to change a setting in Disk Utility.
Look at the top of your desktop. Click on the Disk Utility View option. And from the dropdown menu pick ‘Show All Devices’.
This is important. Because if you don’t see the 2 levels your formatting won’t be successful.
Now you see the second level. Click on your new SSD at the first level.
The red arrow in the screenshot above shows you where.
4. Then Click Erase. It’s At The Top Of Your Disk Utility Pop Up Window.
You’re not erasing yet. This next window is where you choose how you want your SSD formatted.
5. Name, Pick A Format And Scheme For Your SSD.
Give your new SSD a name. Type in what you want to call your SSD external drive. Put the name into the form where it says Name.
Next tell your Mac what file system format you want for your SSD.
The first time you format your SSD on your Mac choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Then format as APFS the second time round.
To set your format click on the little up/down arrows at the end of the format option field. And a window will pop-up. The second arrow in the picture above shows you where.
Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the list of options.
The next field in this window to fill in is Scheme.
The third arrow in the picture above show you where on the up/down arrows.
Choose GUID Partition Map from the options.
6. Then Click On The Erase Button.
Just before clicking.
Be sure you have no data on your SSD you want to keep. If you do. Press cancel and copy those files off first.
Then click the Erase button to format SSD.
In a short time your formatting is complete and you can quickly step through the same steps to APFS format.
7. Quit Disk Utility.
When you’ve finished then you can quit Disk Utility.
Your newly formatted SSD’s icon appears on your Mac’s desktop. And now you can use your SSD storage device.
Do I Need To Format My SSD For Mac?
Yes, most likely.
Most SSD’s are not formatted from the manufacturer for a Mac. Many come in a format called ExFAT for file format compatibility across Macs and Windows PC’s.
But ExFAT can’t be used for a Time Machine backup for example. And that means you’ll need to change your SSD’s format to a native Mac format.
APFS and Mac OS Extended Journaled are native Mac formats.
But if what you want from your SSD is to use it between a Mac and a Windows PC. Then you could leave your drive in its ExFAT format.
But, I’ve found that many SSD’s when delivered in ExFAT, do not have a GUID Partition Map as the scheme for the drive. This means your SSD drive will work. And then some time down the line, without warning stop working. And you won’t know why.
The only way to fix your SSD then is to reformat. Which is a real pain when you now have valuable files on your SSD.
How Do I Make My SSD Compatible With My Mac?
You make your SSD compatible with your Mac by using Disk Utility to format your drive. Use the steps in this article to format your SSD drive.
Formatting Your SSD For Time Machine On Mac
Time Machine uses APFS (Apple File System) or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format to backup to. Mac OS Extended Journaled format is also known as HFS+ (Hierarchical File System).
Since Mac OS Ventura APFS is the default format for Time Machine.
You would use Mac OS Extended for compatibility with earlier Mac OS X releases.
Interestingly in the Mac Ventura operating system and later releases. By setting your SSD up in Time Machine, your Mac will format your SSD for Time Machine as part of the setup. Click the link text for a post all about it.
Your drive will be formatted in APFS.
Just be sure there are no files on the drive you want before you start your SSD Time Machine setup.
I hope you enjoyed this article all about formatting your SSD for your Mac.
If you are looking for more information on, you can check out the other articles on the site.
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About Paul Gregory
I’ve been a system administrator for various corporates for 15 years. And as admin I’ve helped many with their Mac’s and there many Apple devices.
I’m excited by watching users, armed with a little knowledge take control of their Mac’s and their files. And why not?
When I’m not at work or working on the site I like to chill with few beers. And watch a bit of car racing. From Formula 1 to stock car racing. The competition is my thing.