Your Western Digital external drive has a format that you don’t want. Or maybe you’re keen to wipe everything off your drive.
Start from scratch. Erase. Make your drive bare of data, just like new for your Mac.
And that means reformatting your Western Digital hard drive. Or SSD (solid state drive) from WD.
And it doesn’t matter if your drive is a My Passport, My Passport Ultra, WD Elements or SanDisk SSD. A desktop or portable WD external drive.
How to reformat WD drive for Mac is the same. Read on to find out how.
Reformat WD Drive YouTube Video
When it’s easier for you to watch a video. Then take a look at this under 3 minute video walking you though reformatting a Western Digital external drive.
Video Credit: MacTakeAwayData
How Do I Reformat My WD External Hard Drive For Mac?
1. Plug Your Western Digital Drive Into Your Mac.
Log onto your Mac. And when the desktop comes up. Plug in your drive. – WD My Passport drive. WD Element, WD portable hard drive. Or SSD into a USB port on your Mac.
In a few moments a disk icon representing your external drive will show on your desktop.
The drive icon will have the name of your drive under the picture.
If the disk icon doesn’t appear then …
Check Finder Window Settings or Preferences.
Open up a new Finder window. You can launch one by double clicking on Finder in your Mac’s dock.
Then at the top of your Mac’s desktop. Click Finder then Settings (from Mac OS Ventura). In earlier Mac operating systems it’s called Preferences. Click that from the menu.
Go to the General tab in the pop up window that comes up.
You’ll need to put a check in the box for ‘External Disks’.
Now you’re ready to WD reformat for mac.
Take Note: Reformatting. Or reinitializing or erasing a WD hard drive. Or SSD drive clears all from the drive. Any file, data or previous partition information will be wiped clean.
If there are files on the drive you want or need then copy them off first.
Because after you’ve reformatted your drive, those files will be gone.
You don’t want to be the one needing data recovery services. Or data recovery software, hoping you’ll recover data.
2. Open Disk Utility.
Disk Utility is your Mac’s disk management software. And you’ll use it to reformat your drive as one of its disk management features.
Go to your Mac’s Applications folder. Inside the Applications folder there is another folder called Utilities.
Disk Utility is in there. Double click to start it up.
3. Pick Your Western Digital Drive In Disk Utility.
Disk Utility opens up into a pop up window.
On the left hand side of that window are two headings.
The first is titled Internal. You won’t be doing anything there. This is where your Mac’s internal drive is shown.
External is the second heading.
You’ll see your WD portable hard drive, desktop or SSD listed there.
You want to see 2 levels shown for your WD external drive.
Click the small arrow to the left your WD drive if the list isn’t expanded.
When you can’t see both levels check the Disk Utility view.
At the top of your Mac’s desktop. Click the View option from the Disk Utility menu. Then from the drop down menu pick Show All Devices.
Then go back to the ‘External’ heading. Check you can see both levels now. And then click your drive where you first see it. Right under the External heading.
This is very important to do.
And if you don’t, you’ll get all sorts of issues reformatting. From errors reformatting. Right through to odd issues with your drive in the future.
So, be sure you can see both levels. Then click on your SSD, or external hard drive right where you see it under the External heading.
4. Click On Erase.
Next, you look across the top of the Disk Utility pop up window. For the Erase button. And click on it.
The Erase part of Disk Utility is what you’ll use to reformat your WD hard disk. Or SSD. But you’re not quite starting the reformat yet.
You need to put in a bit more information on how you’d like your external drive set up after reformatting.
5. Name Your Drive And Pick The Format.
On the next window you type in a name for your WD external hard drive. Or SSD if you’re reformatting one.
Put the name in the name field.
Next is the Format field. Click on the up down arrows at the end of the field. That opens up a list.
You’ll need to pick the file system format you want.
Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
You’d pick this for a WD drive you want to copy and paste your files and data to. Or drag and drop to. You’d also pick this file system format if you plan to use your drive for a Time Machine backup.
APFS (Apple File System)
Apple created APFS for Solid State Drives, to take advantage of the extra performance of those drives. APFS is also fine for a WD external hard drive.
You can copy and paste. Or drag and drop your data and files to a WD APFS formatted external drive.
You can also do a Time Machine backup to an Apple File System WD Drive.
But only since the Mac OS x update to Big Sur. Beware if the Mac you plan to use your WD external hard drive. Or SSD on is running an earlier Mac OS release. Use Mac OS extended Journaled instead.
Is the best file system format to pick when you want to share your drive with your Mac and a Windows PC. Because ExFAT can be read and written to by a Mac computer and a Windows platform based PC. But note you can’t use an ExFAT file system for a Time Machine backup.
6. Next Pick GUID For Scheme.
Pick the file system format you want. And in the next field put in your scheme.
No matter which of the above formats you choose. Pick GUID Partition Map for the Scheme.
If you’re tempted to pick the Apple Partition Map. Know that, this scheme is only for old power PC based Mac’s.
7. Click On The Erase Button.
Double check you’ve set things up the way you want. Assure yourself there is nothing on the drive you need.
If there is you’ve a chance now to cancel. Copy those files off the WD drive. And come back through the reformatting steps.
When you’re happy click the Erase button. You’ll find it on the bottom right of the Disk Utility pop up window.
Your Mac will take a few moments refreshing and reformatting your WD external drive.
After that your Western Digital hard disk appears on your desktop.
You’ll see it’s drive icon with the name you called it underneath the icon.
Now you’re finished, you can exit Disk Utility.
Double click on your WD Passport hard drive icon. Or WD Element, WD EasyStore or other WD external drive on your desktop.
That opens up a Finder window onto your drive. Then you can simply drop the data and files and folders you want onto the drive.
Or set up your WD hard drive. Or SSD with Time Machine for a Time Machine backup.
When you’re finished using your WD drive eject it from your Mac.
Be sure to eject first ahead of plugging out it’s USB cable.
Your Mac computer holds data for your drive in its memory. And ejecting your drive makes sure everything is written down properly to your drive.
Wait till your drive icon disappears. And your WD drive stops its fast flashing that shows it’s actively sending or receiving data.
Why Reformat A WD External Hard Drive For Mac This Way
Or a reformat a WD SSD drive this way?
It’s best to reformat your hard drive on your Mac when you want to use your drive on your Mac. Because Mac’s are choosy about their file system formats.
And reformatting on a windows platform, using windows explorer. Could mean problems with using your drive on Mac down the line.
Even using the format option in WD Drive Utility can result in issues down the track.
Not sure what WD Drive Utility is? It’s part of the WD Discovery suite of software. It comes for free on most WD drives. And Western Digital provides it to manage its drives.
Use your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or iMac to reformat WD drives you want to use on your Mac.
So, you’ve the answer to how do you reformat a wd external hard drive for Mac.
And your WD Solid State Drive if you’re using one. The steps are the same.
As you’re here. Do take a look at our other Western Digital external drive articles.
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.