How to format your FreeAgent drive in Mac OS 10.5+

How to format your FreeAgent drive in Mac OS 10.5+

Instructions for how to format your external drive so that it will be fully usable in MacOS.

The current line of Seagate external drives (except for the Go for Mac / Go Pro for Mac and the Desk for Mac) comes preformatted as NTFS and set up for use with Windows computers. While the FreeAgent Go (Pro) for Mac and Desk for Mac drives come preformatted for MacOS, many people may prefer one of the other products in the Seagate external drive family. For example, the FreeAgent Go, due to its numerous attractive color options, as well as its specialized docking station, so here are some steps to help make your Seagate external drives work in MacOS.

Note: If you are using a FreeAgent GoFlex drive, please view Document ID: 214531 for special instructions, unless you were redirected here from that article already. If that is the case, continue with the procedure below.

  1. The drive will need to be reformatted. Reformatting the drive will erase all data on the drive, so you should copy any data that is on the drive to a different drive before formatting.
    To reformat the drive in MacOS X:
    1. Open Disk Utility.
      1. Choose Go in the Finder Apple menu (at the top of the screen).
      2. Select Utilities.
      3. Double-click the Disk Utility icon.
    2. Choose the Seagate drive in the left window. If the drive is not showing, see step 3 below.
    3. Choose the Partition tab in the right side of the Disk Utility window.
    4. In the drop-down menu that says "current volume scheme", select one partition.
    5. Press the Options button and select Guid Partition Table.
    6. Change the Volume Format to MacOS Extended.
    7. Click Apply.
      Warning: This operation will erase all data on the drive, so before you continue, verify that any data on the drive is backed up somewhere else.
    8. Click Partition. At this point, the volume dismounts from the desktop and the drive is partitioned and formatted.
      Note: When Volumes are created, Time Machine may open, asking if you would like to use the volume for backups. Click Cancel to proceed.
      If the partition fails on Leopard, see the special instructions below, in step 3.
  2. The drive may go to sleep on its own. If it does, you can download a utility to prevent the drive from the link below. Keep in mind the drive will still be controlled by the MacOS power management features, which are set in Mac System Preferences.
    Warning: Connect your FreeAgent drive to your Mac and wait for it to mount on the desktop before using the following utility.
    1. Download the FreeAgent Go sleep disable utility's enclosed DMG file to your desktop.
    2. Make sure the FreeAgent drive is connected to the Mac and mounted on the desktop.
    3. Double-click the file to start the install process.
    4. Follow the onscreen instructions to install.
    5. During the install, the utility performs the sleep disable function, so no further steps are needed once the installation completes.
      Note: If the drive is put on a Windows computer and the sleep time is adjusted with Seagate Manager, then this utility can be installed again on the Mac to disable the sleep function. 
  3. Make sure your computer can run your drive off a single USB cable. Some older Macintosh laptops do not provide enough USB power to run an external 2.5-inch drive and so the drive will not be detected at all in that case. If you encounter problems with this, there are a few options.
    1. If this is a newly purchased drive, you may want to work with the place of purchase to exchange this drive for a FreeAgent Go for Mac, which runs on Firewire.
    2. A special Y-Cable can be used to plug into two USB ports to draw additional power, if two ports are available. These cables can be purchased through many popular online retails and should have 1 - Mini USB B port (male) and 2 - USB A ports (male).
    3. Use a powered USB hub which plugs into an electrical outlet and should provide enough power to run the drive.

Special instructions if erase fails on Leopard / Snow Leopard.

Leopard (Mac OS X - 10.5.x) and Snow Leopard (Mac OS X - 10.6.x) seem to be currently having problems reformatting external drives. This is a common issue on Leopard/Snow Leopardthat is seen on most brands of drives.
Note: This is not a problem with the external drive itself. Rather, it is an issue with the Disk Utility included in Leopard/Snow Leopard.

Suggestions: If partitioning/formatting the drive in Disk Utility fails, there are three options:

  1. Ensure that any/all installer (DMG) files are dismounted before trying to prepare an external drive. Simply drag these files to the Trash to proceed.
  2. Partition the drive using the OS install CD.
    1. Insert your Operating System install DVD into the CD/DVD drive.
    2. Restart your Mac.
    3. Hold down the Option key while the Mac is rebooting.
    4. Choose the "OS X install Disk" option.
    5. Choose your preferred language.
    6. Choose "Utilities > Disk Utility" from the top-menu.
    7. Follow partition and formatting instructions from step 1-C.
  3. If the Disk Utility Partition option fails, it may be necessary to move the external drive to a Windows system to repartition and reformat it. Click here to launch a video showing how to prepare an external drive using Windows Vista, or here for step-by-step instructions for Windows XP, or here for step-by-step instructions for Windows 7 / Vista.

Additional Information: Do not try to use the reformatting tutorial script that comes on the OneTouch 4 drives, as this script was designed for Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and will not work properly on Leopard.



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