SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Best Format For Mac Title Image

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is the external drive you need on your Mac.

Or maybe you have the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable.

They are both Compact and Fast.

But you have one nagging thought in your mind.

It’s ExFAT formatted out of the box.

And is that ok for your Mac?

Or are you going to need to change it? And if you do. What do you change it too?

It doesn’t matter if you’ve a new SanDisk Portable SSD or thinking of getting one.

You’ll find in this article the things to consider when you’re deciding…

What is the best format for your SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD For Your Mac?

And example spots you might find yourself in.

OK, So Tell Me Which Is The Best

What format you pick depends on what you’re planning to use your SanDisk Portable SSD drive for.


Some formats are better for some things. For example. Time Machine will only backup to a SanDisk in a Mac format.

Read on and choose which is the best for you. And how you plan to use your SanDisk SSD Portable drive.

What About Sticking With The Extreme SSD Portable Out Of The Box Format?

Your SanDisk Extreme Portable. Or Pro Portable SSD arrives in its box with ExFAT formatting.

Now that’s a format both your Mac and a Windows PC can read and write to right away.

Great you’re thinking I’ll go with that.

But just before you frolic off into the sunset.

It’s ExFAT alright but it’s a  – master boot record.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Master Boot Record
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD As Master Boot Record

A Mac and a Windows PC can read and write to it. And this is likely fine if you’re mainly using on a PC. And NOT OFTEN sharing on a Mac.

But if you’re using between the two types of computers more than that. Then it’ll be well worth your time reformatting.

Format as ExFAT sure but choose GUID Partition Map as the scheme rather than Master Boot Record. PC’s are fine with ExFAT and Master Boot Records as scheme.

But your Mac?

Not so much.

Your Mac will be happier in the long run and you won’t be risking odd. Can’t place my finger on it errors.

Especially when you’ve a lot of your files on there. And it’s not as easy to reformat it.

Save time and stress.

Reformat as ExFAT and use the GUID Partition Map scheme.

SanDisk Portable ExFAT GUID Partition Map
SanDisk Portable ExFAT GUID Partition Map

Are You Only Using Your SSD SanDisk Portable On Newer Macs?

And by that, I mean a MacBook Pro that is dated 2017 or later. Or a MacBook Air from 2018. Or an iMac from 2016 or later.

Because they’ll be running at least High Sierra Mac OS 10.13. And that operating system understands using solid state drives (SSD’s). And the APFS – Apple File System format. So APFS will be the best format to use.

They’ll also have USB C ports that can start to take advantage. – Depending on the year your Mac was made. – Of the speed of the SanDisk SSD Portable drives.

Want the speed of your SSD drive to store your photos? Or HD videos? Or run compute intensive software programs right from the drive?

Then APFS is the best format to pick.

Format as APFS and the scheme as GUID Partition.

SanDisk Portable APFS GUID Partition Map
SanDisk Portable APFS GUID Partition Map

Plugging In Your SanDisk Portable SSD To Newer And Older Macs and MacBooks

Where some of your Macs will be running older releases of the Mac operating system. Then APFS is likely not for you.

Mac OS Extended (Journaled), this format is also known as HFS+, is the right one to pick.

This is because older Macs will know and use this file system format happily.

It’s a file system that’s been around since 2007. And your older Mac will use it as its main file system format on its internal drives.

One thing to keep in mind.

Your older Mac may have USB type A 2.0 ports.

So what? You ask.

My SanDisk Portable ships with an adaptor. And USB is backwards compatible.


But Mac’s back then. And their USB ports weren’t designed for the power draw of SSD’s. And your Mac’s USB port powers your SanDisk Extreme Portable. And your Extreme Pro Portable.

Your older Mac with a USB 2.0 port likely won’t be able to power your SanDisk SSD.

Then you’ll need a USB hub with its own independent power.

Your SanDisk can take its power from that. And then your older Mac will use your SanDisk Extreme Portable with glee.

And for those of you moving your SSD drive between older and newer Macs. The format to pick is Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and Scheme is GUID Partition Map.

SanDisk Mac OS Extended GUID Partition Map
SanDisk Mac OS Extended GUID Partition Map

Best For Using SanDisk Extreme Portable Between Your Mac And Windows PC

ExFAT is the best format to choose if this is your need.

As both Mac and Windows PCs can read and write to an ExFAT drive.

And share the whole drive.

Or, create an ExFAT partition that you share. Because we all know that PC’s are prone to getting virus’.

And at least with the PC files corralled in one of the partitions, you can control any issues.

You can have one partition for Mac as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or APFS. And that partition you use only for Mac.

And another as ExFAT as the partition you share.

Format as ExFAT. And do this formatting on your Mac. And choose GUID Partition Map as scheme.

Best Format For A Time Machine Backup On Your SanDisk Extreme Portable

As long as your Mac is running Big Sur, Monterey or Ventura then APFS is the best format.

You can also use Mac OS Extended (Journaled) on all the Mac operating systems right back to the earliest versions.  So running an older Mac OS then pick Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

If you’re backing up to a partition on your SanDisk Extreme just be sure your Time Machine partition is at least twice the size of the files you’re backing up.

Using Your SanDisk Extreme Portable On A Mac As A Boot Drive

It’s best you use APFS. Or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) depending on the operating system you’re running.

Running an OS that’s before High Sierra. Mac OS 10.13?

Then format your SanDisk Extreme SSD Portable. Or Pro Portable SSD as Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

Is your Mac is running a later operating system? Then you can format as APFS.

If Your Mac can’t run Mac OS 10.13 then it won’t understand APFS formatted external drives. Never mind boot from then.

What’s Best On A SanDisk Portable SSD For A Clone Drive

When you need to clone an internal drive on your Mac. Or another external drive what’s the format right choice?

Look at the format the drive is in now and use that. Because when you clone that is how the drive will be written to anyway.

Cloning is a copy.

So if your Mac is an older Mac with a hard drive inside. It’ll be formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Format your SanDisk Extreme SSD as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) to match.

Is your Mac a newer Mac with SSD drives inside?

Then it’ll be running APFS formatted drives.  Format your SanDisk Portable as APFS.

Cloning an external drive running on your Mac?

Then your format your SanDisk Extreme SSD Portable to match it. Whether it is formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Or ExFAT. Or APFS.

In Closing

And there you have it. Your choices and the best format to pick for your MacBook Pro, Air or iMac. And the different ways you can use your SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD.  Or SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable.

And now you’ve chosen your best format.

Are you ready to format your SanDisk? `You can learn how. With words, pictures and a video in the formatting article below.

Enjoy your SSD drive.

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