Formatting an Internal or External hard drive using Mac OS

Formatting an Internal or External hard drive using Mac OS



Tutorial on the usage of MacOS Disk Utility.

Please select the operating system you are using to see a step-by-step guide to formatting a hard drive with a Macintosh operating system.

Mac OS 8.x through 9.x

Mac OS X or 10

Mac OSX or 10, with a hard drive 500 GB or larger

Formatting an ATA hard drive in Macintosh operating system 8.X through 9.X.

Step 1
After hooking up the hard drive:

  1. Boot off either the CD or the main Macintosh HD.
  2. Go to the Apple System Profiler located under the Apple menu.
  3. Go to Devices and Volumes and check to see if the hard drive that is going to be formatted is properly displayed.
  4. If the drive is not displayed, make sure that the drive is properly installed or connected.

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Step 2
Once the drive is detected and determined to be the one that is to be formatted:

  1. Go to the System Folder.
  2. Select Utilities.
  3. Select Drive Setup.
  4. Double-click on the Drive Setup icon.

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Step 3
Select the drive you want to format, then select Initialize.

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Select either Initialize for a single volume format or select Custom Setup to specify type of format, partition, and size. For Custom Setup instructions, go to Step 4.

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Step 4
In Custom Setup, select the Partition Scheme, the type of format, and the size. Then select OK.

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Step 5
This will then take you to the Initialize screen. Select Initialize. After the drive initializes, it will be ready for use.

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Step 6
To verify that the system recognizes the correct partitions, size, and format go back to Apple System Profiler and select the Devices and Volumes folder. Check the information from the pull downs.

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To format the drive for Mac OS X (Jaguar, Panther and Tiger)

 The way in which Mac OS X mounts the hard drive depends on the drive's capacity.

  1. Plug your drive into the Macintosh.
  2. Launch the Disk Utility.

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  3. Select your new drive from the list on the left. A description of the drive appears in the right window.

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  4. Select the Partition tab at the top of the window.

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  5. You may partition the drive or just keep it to one volume. For each volume:.
    • Enter a name for your drive in the Name field.
    • Select the Mac OS Extended from the Volume Format drop-down list.
    • Select the check box next to Install Mac OS 9 Drivers. This will allow your disk to be recognized if you start your system with Mac OS 9.
    • Click Partition to continue. An alert dialogue box appears to confirm the Partitioning/Formatting process.

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    • Click Partition to start the Partitioning/Formatting process.

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    • When complete, the drive will mount to the Desktop.


When using the Disk Utility to Erase NTFS-formatted drives that are 500GB or larger, the Erase option will report a Disk Erase Failure.
How to Erase an internal or external drive that is 500 GB or larger and has already been setup with NTFS

  1. Open the Disk Utility.
  2. Select the drive.
  3. Click Partition.
  4. Under Volume Scheme, choose 1 Partition.
  5. Choose Options.
  6. Choose Apple Partition Map.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Click Apply.
  9. Click the Partition button.
  10. The drive will Erase. When it completes, the drive will mount on the Desktop.




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