As the cost per GB of hard drive space falls, it becomes practical to buy a larger external hard drive and use it for several purposes.
And that is exactly what partitioning up – splitting using the Mac operating system software allows you to do.
Let me teach you in 10 steps how to partition WD My Passport for Mac.
Western Digital manufactures two types of the WD My Passport hard drive. One has for Mac as part of the description and is preformatted to HFS+ (equivalent to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) File System.
The other type is NTFS formatted and is simply called WD My Passport – no for Mac after the title.
Whether you have the WD My Passport for Mac or have bought the NTFS version they both need to be formatted first before partitioning.
If you are not sure how to format your WD My Passport drive take a look at my article on how to format WD Passport for Mac.
If you would like to take a look at some detail on the WD My Passport hard drive I have an article that compares the WD My Passport drive to the WD Elements external drive so you can fully gen up.
Your WD My Passport all formatted? Great!
Now you’re ready to partition your My Passport external drive.
Not sure what partitioning is?
It’s a software process for dividing up your external drive into different sized sectors so that you can devote a particular part to a certain job.
You want to use your drive for Time Machine backups and you also want to copy and paste files onto the drive. Although in theory you could do that without partitioning, it is best practice to devote a section to Time Machine and another section to copying and pasting.
When you are using the copy and pasting part you won’t see the Time Machine backups and visa versa.
If you want a section of your WD Passport for Mac and PC, it needs to be formatted in a particular way so that both the Mac and PC can read and write from the drive.
And you can’t share that partition with Time Machine.
In addition PCs are more prone to getting viruses. Having a partition won’t prevent the most destructive viruses from trashing the drive, though it will restrict some.
Before you Partition
Think about what you plan to do with the hard drive and the size of partitions you are going to need for each section.
Creating a Partition for Time Machine
Time Machine needs a partition formatted to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) File System.
The partition needs to be about twice the size of the amount of data you are backing up. Or to keep things simple twice the size of the hard drive you are backing up.
If you have two Macs you want to back up using the WD My Passport hard drive then you could create two partitions of the right sizes and dedicate each partition to a particular Mac.
Creating a Partition to Copy and Paste Files To
You may need to take files with you to use on another Mac in a different location.
Or your plan may be to simply free up space on your Mac by copying files you use less often off onto a separate drive.
Or store files from a particular project on your My Passport external drive.
Copy and Pasting, Drag and Drop to the external drive are all easy to do.
And you can have a partition on a larger drive dedicated to doing this.
Note: If the only copy of these files is on the WD My Passport external drive you will need a backup of those files. Hard drives fail over time and the best practice is to have at least two copies on separate drives if not three copies of your data.
Partitions used for copy, pasting, drag and drop are formatted to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) File System. Or if you have one of the latest Macs running Mac OS High Sierra, you can also format the partition to AFS (the new Apple File System).
Both Mac OS Extended (Journaled) File System and AFS are only read and writable from a Mac.
Creating a Partition to Use between Mac and PC?
A partition where you want to read and write files between a Mac and a PC needs to be formatted to ExFAT. ExFAT is a file system format that is understood by both Mac and PC and when you plug in the WD My Passport that partition will be visible to both. The PC will not see or recognize partitions formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) File System or AFS.
Partition WD My Passport for Mac
The information and recommendations here are focused on the version of operating system for the Mac called Mac OS Sierra. Prior releases operate in a similar way although the screen displays may vary in the detail of their look. That said this guidance is still very relevant.
I’ll just reiterate that before partitioning your WD My Passport external hard drive that you format the entire drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) File System before partitioning and if you are not sure how, look at my document on the site here.
Formatting and partitioning are destructive processes, and by that I mean that both processes removes links to existing files and documents on the hard drive.
Copy off any data somewhere safe before you start.
Now we can get to the bones of partitioning up your WD My Passport for Mac. I use images and I have a link to a video that you can watch to help you feel confident to do this yourself. Armed with the information on the number of partitions you want to divide your WD My Passport drive into and the size of those partitions you’re ready to start.
Go on it’s easy. Teach yourself in 10 quick steps.
- Turn on, log into your Mac and plug in your USB cable.
The My Passport hard drive already formatted to Mac OS extended (Journaled) File System? Then you are good to go.
- Open up the Disk Utility application by heading to spotlight search at the top of your desktop.
Type the letters Disk Utility. You’ll probably see the application come up as soon as you type: d i s k
Double click and the application will start up.
- Select the formatted My Passport drive at the top level of the hierarchy.
Random errors will be thrown out by the Mac operating system if you don’t select the drive at the top level of the hierarchy so double check.
- Look at the top of the Disk Utility screen and click on the Partition button.
- The partition pop up window now shows on the screen and through this window you can set up the number of partitions you want and the type of partition you want.
Remember before we started I said to have a think about the number of partitions you would like and their sizes? Now is the time to use that information.
Your first task is to set up your first partition. Give your first partition a name to help you remember what you set this partition up to do.
For this example we’ll set this up as a partition to be used for Time Machine backups.
Time Machine needs a partition formatted to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) File System). Select that using the up and down arrows to the right hand side of the format option.
Enter in the size of the partition on the next line. Type in the number and use the up and down arrows so say whether it is in TB, GB, etc.
- Now click the plus sign at the bottom of the pop up window.
This creates a second partition.
Give your partition a name that helps you remember what this partition in going to be used for. In the example screen, this is a partition used for copying and pasting photos to. Copy and paste partitions need to be formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) File System. Set the size you want.
Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for partitions to be used for copying, pasting, dragging or dropping files to.
- Click the plus sign again if you want to create a third partition.
Or if you have the number of partitions and type you need jump down to instruction 10.
- If you want WD Passport for Mac and PC and need to create a partition that you will use to transfer files.
Or use between a Mac and a PC choose ExFAT as the partition format. That way files will be visible to, readable and writable by both operating systems.
- Often you will find the partition sizes adjusted when you have entered specific figures. This is because the act of partitioning uses up file system space. You can use the circles around the partition pie. What do I mean by that?
Click, hold and move the partition circles to adjust the partition sizes, till you get largely what you want. Mac OS is calculating on the fly the partition sizes and the space its needs to create the partitions.
- Click Apply and a pop up screen will appear confirming the partitions you are setting up. Click on partition and away Disk Utility will go, creating the partitions.
The process of creating the partitions will take a few minutes.
Once complete Disk Utility will display the partitioned WD My Passport drive, with its partitions. Different colors will illustrate the partitions you have set up.
The partitions will also appear on your Mac’s desktop as disk icons. Each partition looking like a separate disk that you can use.
You can now dismiss the Disk Utility window because the partitions on your WD My Passport drive are ready for you to use.
YouTube Partitioning WD My Passport on your Mac
Here is a YouTube video showing the partitioning of WD My Passport. I have set the video to the point where Acquevara shows the hard drive being partitioned.
WD My Passport External Hard-drive Set Up Guide for Mac
Video Credit: Acquevara
Partition WD My Passport Frequently Asked Questions
- Why Does Creating Partitions and Formatting reduce my hard drive space?
Formatting and the creation of partitions takes up room on your WD My Passport drive. This is why it is a good idea to buy an external hard drive larger than you need particularly if your requirement is right on the size capacity of a hard drive.
What I mean by this is that if you total up your data needs and have 3TB of data. Don’t buy a 3TB disk, buy a 4TB disk. Because formatting and writing file systems take up space and you won’t have the space you hoped for.
- I have a corrupted partition how can I get to my files?
This is one reason a back up of your entire disk is always a good idea. Failing that enter disk utility and run first aid on your drive to see if Mac OS can recover the corrupted drive.
As a second option, you can also download a Mac compatible version of the WD Discovery software and use that to run a disk health check. This can sometimes recover the partition enough for you to use.
- I try to partition and I get an error from Disk Utility.
Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case and something that seems to have arrived with Sierra and High Sierra. Just try again. If the disk has successfully formatted on your Mac, just retry. You can also take a look at my frequently asked questions section of the how to format WD Passport For Mac article. – link to how to format WD doc
- How do I repartition my WD My Passport drive?
Want to change the size of your partitions or remove a partition or add a partition. You use disk utility in the same way I’ve described above to put in your new partitioning information.
However … and this is important
If you have existing data in the partition you must copy it off first as partitioning will remove the existing file system information. And this will mean you will lose access to your information.
In any major change like that to your disks, make sure you have a copy of your data elsewhere.
I hope you have enjoyed my article ‘Partition WD My Passport for Mac, Teach Yourself in 10 Steps’ – I trust you feel confident to do this yourself and that I have shown you how straight forward and easy it is.
Feel Free to check out some of my other articles on the site.