Mac OS X – format external drives

As far as I have seen, there is no simple “point-and-click” solution to format an external hard drive to Fat 32
in Mac OS X. This is a shame, because who does not want to be able to use external discs in an mixed environment (Windows/Macs) where
both platforms could read/write to the content?

But there is a terminal solution to this problem. Thats what this site is all about.

First, you would be sure which drive you operate on. Go into Disk Utility, right-click on the drive you want to format,
select Info. See what the disk identifier is (for example, “disk3”).

Click on the Partition tab, and remove remove all the partitions for that drive.

Now, over to the terminal
fdisk -i -a dos /dev/rdisk# (where # is the disk number you got above)

That creates a new partition, full size (up to 127GB), with auto sector sizes and such. Now you need to format it:

newfs_msdos -F 32 /dev/rdisk#s1

You can optionally specify a volume name with:
newfs_msdos -F 32 -v volname /dev/rdisk#s1 //volname is whatever name you want in DOS 8.3 rules.

Note that the capital “F” is critical. Lower-case “f” means something else.


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