How to Format an ExFAT USB Drive

Posted on by Larry

Most USB drives, often called “thumb” drives because they are the size of your thumb, are formatted as FAT32. This older format is highly-compatible, but very limited in terms of file names and size.

A much better option is to reformat the drive as ExFAT which is supported natively by both Windows and Mac systems.

Here’s how.

BIG, BIG NOTE: Reformatting a drive erases ALL data on it. Do NOT!! reformat any drive that contains data you want to keep. Copy it somewhere else first.

(Click to see larger image.)

With the container selected, click the Erase icon in the tool bar top right.


The process is fast and simple – provided you select the right object when you start. You only need to do this once – when you first create the drive.

However, you can repeat this as many times as you want whenever you want to clean a drive of all existing data and reset it back to “brand new.”

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2 Responses to How to Format an ExFAT USB Drive

  1. Clark Morris says:

    Does anyone else have speed/stability issues sometimes with ExFat formatted drives on Mac…and even PC? I’ve had, for past several years, issues with Mac reading and esp. writing to ExFat being very, very (basically intolerably) slow. Then reformat same exact drive to Mac or NTFS (using ‘NTFS for Mac’ by Paragon) and immediately the drive works far faster/more reliably, on PC AND Mac. Several Macs, several OSs over the years…but seemingly not ALL drives or sticks. But that’s why I try to stay away from ExFat overall if possible. Is it just me?

    • Larry says:


      Smile… I’m not going to say “it’s you.” While I have noticed that drive speeds vary depending upon the size of the file being transferred, I haven’t seen the behavior you describe. On the other hand, I only use thumb drives for data transfer. Anything I use in real-time production is formatted as APFS.


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