WD Elements Partition Mac, 6 Steps to Partition Fast

By Simon Irons / September 2, 2019
WD Elements Partition Mac Tiitle Image

You’ve a WD Elements external hard drive.

And you’d love to partition it.

You want a part of your WD Elements drive you can use for your own Mac’s documents. And maybe another section for the kid’s Windows PC games and stuff. Then you could share files.

Without worrying about getting a virus from their PC’s. And without them seeing what’s stored on the partition you have for your Mac.

Or you may be thinking of having a partition for your Mac’s music library. And have the rest of your WD Elements drive for a Time Machine backup.

Whether your Elements drive is 1TB, 2TB, 3TB or 4TB you can partition it up and use it how you want. Curious? You can find out how. Right here, Right now.

WD Elements

You can Read the latest WD Elements Review Post. By Clicking on the picture and this text.



Ahead of Partitioning Your WD Elements Drive On Your Mac

Western Digital formats your WD Elements drive as NTFS when it’s shipped to you.

What does that mean?

Before you can partition this drive on your Mac you’ll need to change that.  Your Mac won’t partition a NTFS formatted drive.

This also means that if you have files already on the drive put there by a Windows PC. You’ll have to copy those files off first.

Then once you’ve formatted your Elements drive and partitioned it up the way you want. You can copy them back onto your WD Elements drive into the partition you want.

You’ll need to format your WD Elements hard drive first as HFS+. HFS+ is also known as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

Don’t know how to format your WD Elements external hard drive on your Mac?

You can find out from another article here on the site.

Format your WD Elements drive and come back here.

Drive all formatted?  

Great now you’re ready to get on with the partitioning.

How to Partition WD Elements

1. Start up your Mac.

Log in and plug in the USB cable of your WD Elements hard drive.

You should now see your WD Elements drive icon on your iMac or MacBook’s desktop.

New Drive Icon On Desktop
Drive Icon On Desktop

Having problems seeing your WD Elements drive on your Mac’s desktop?

Take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions Below.

It’s also best if you have your Mac connected up to external power.  You really don’t want your battery failing half way through your partitioning.

2. Open Up Disk Utility on your iMac or MacBook.

You do the partitioning of your WD Elements using a software program on your Mac called Disk Utility.  You’ll have used the same software when you formatted your WD Elements drive.

You can start up Disk Utility through a finder window search.

Finder Window Search For Disk Utility
Finder Window Search For Disk Utility

Open a finder window on your Mac.

Type Disk Utility into the search window.

Choose the Applications folder to search.

Double click on Disk Utility.

The yellow arrows in the above picture shows you where to type, click and search.

Once Disk Utility has started up.

3. Choose your WD Elements Drive.

To the left of the popup window you’ll find your WD Elements drive listed. It’s under the ‘External’ drives heading.

WD Elements Internal External drive list
WD Elements Internal External drive list

Click on your WD Elements at the top level of the list. (Important)

Can’t see the External Drive List or only one heading?

You can fix this by looking at the top of your Disk Utility popup window.

Click on View.

Disk Utility View Option
Disk Utility View Option

Choose ‘Show all Devices’ this will show you the drive and the volume. All the levels. And you’ll be able to pick your WD Elements drive.

4. Click on Partition at the top of the pop up window.

Select Partition
Select Partition

The next window you’ll see on your Mac is where you set and size the number of partitions you want.

WD Elements Partition Pop Up Window
WD Elements Partition Pop Up Window

The large circle is how your WD Elements drive is partitioned now on your Mac. 

When you formatted your WD Elements external hard drive, you in effect, created one large partition.

Now you’re going to split this drive into different sections. And you do this by setting up your first partition.

Give your partition a name.

Think of a name that best describes what you’re going to use this partition for.  This makes it easy to find your partition later on your Mac’s desktop.

Next pick the format you want for this partition. The up down arrows at the end of the field opens up a list where you can choose the format you want.

You Pick:

  • Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for a partition you plan to drag and drop to. Or copy and paste to.  This is also the format you choose for a partition you plan to use for a Time Machine backup.
  • ExFAT for a partition you plan on sharing between a Mac and a Windows PC. Both a Mac and a Windows PC can freely see and share an ExFAT partition.

Then set the size you want for your partition. An arrow in the picture above shows you where.

Great that’s your first partition done.

5. Click on + To Create your Second Partition.

WD Elements Create 2nd Partition
WD Elements Create 2nd Partition

And now you do exactly the same.  Give your second partition a name. Set the partition format you want.  Set its size.

The circle on your partition screen will move to show you the size of the second partition.

If you want a third partition then you do the same again.

Don’t worry if the over all sizes in TB doesn’t seem quite right.  Writing file systems on partitions uses up space.  Your Mac will work it out and show you what you have left to play with.

It’s best not to create too many partitions. Two perhaps three should be your max.

6. Click Apply when You’re Done.

WD Elements Apply Partitioning
WD Elements Apply Partitioning

Now your Mac will take a few minutes to build your partitions and each partition’s file system. Once they’re done you can close your Disk Utility window.

How do I find and Use the Partitions on My WD Elements?

Your partitions will show up as file icons on your desktop.

Drive and Partition Icons
Drive and Partition Icons

You double click on each, and that will open up a finder window.

Then you’re free to use them. Copy and paste to the finder windows from your Mac. Create folders. Or attach a partition for a Time Machine backup.

And it all took less than five minutes to do.

Partitioning WD Elements Frequently Asked Questions

1. I can’t see my WD Elements drive on my Mac’s Desktop

There are a few possible causes and solutions.

a. Check your finder window preferences.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

And be sure you have the show hard drive and external disks checked.

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

Then your WD Elements drive should show up on your desktop

b. Check your USB cable. Try a USB cable you know works. It’s surprising how often a dud cable can cause your external hard drive not to show up.

c. Try plugging in your WD Elements drive into another USB port on your Mac.

d. Shutdown and restart your Mac. This will clear any software problems on your USB ports.

How Do I Partition WD Elements for Mac and PC?

Want a partition you can share between a Mac and a Windows PC?  You follow the steps in this post.

And you make sure the partition you want to share is partitioned with the file format of ExFAT.

Some older articles on the web suggest FAT32. But there are file size restrictions with FAT32 and these days there is no need to use it.  ExFAT is a more robust file system.

Both your Mac and your Windows PC will see an ExFAT partition straight away. And you’re free to copy and paste. Drag and Drop files from a Mac or a PC to an ExFAT partition.

But …

You can’t backup an ExFAT partition with Time Machine.  You’ll need to be sure you have a copy of those files somewhere else. Should anything happen to your WD Elements external hard drive. 

You can think about cloning your WD Elements drive to another external hard drive. And there is an article on this site that will tell you how.

How do I Partition WD Elements for Time Machine?

The steps in this post will allow you to create a Time Machine partition.  Just make sure the partition is created as Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

And be sure it is large enough for your backup.

Have 200 GB to backup?

Then you should think of having a partition 400GB in size as a minimum. This will give you plenty of room to store your backups and to grow into over time.

Last Words

I hope you now have your WD Elements all partitioned up on your Mac. Though, if the only copy of your documents, or music, or photos is on the WD Elements drive. Think about getting a second one.

It pays to have a copy of your important files in more than one place.  Just in case.

I have other documents on the site about the WD Elements external hard drive.

Please take a look.

WD Elements Review – What the Smart Mac Would Choose

WD Elements VS My Passport Which is Best for Your Mac?

Format WD Elements for Mac and PC Have your Drive for Both