Due to limited storage space on your MAC, many of you must be using external storage to save movies, songs, videos or projects. If this is the case, then there must come a time with when you would like to remove old videos and audios in order to make space for a new one.

Mac offers a built-in app called the Disk Utility, it lets you remove, format and even change the partition of your external storage. In the course of this article, we will provide you a complete tutorial on formatting and erase your external devices using Disk Utility.

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How to format and erase external disks on your MAC

It is pretty simple, start with launching the app on your MAC and then go to Dock>Launchpad>Spotlight or Utilities/Applications Folder. From there, just select the disk that you want to erase

Formatting the complete Disk: To format the complete disk, ensure that you have selected the Disk itself from the sidebar and not any one of its partitions.

NOTE: There is a difference between erasing a volume and erasing a disk. In the former, only the files present in that particular volume are deleted, the rest are left untouched. But in the later, all volumes including their files are deleted.

Once selected the disk or the partition, just click on the Erase button that is located on the toolbar of the Disk Utility Window.

Another important thing to remember is that Disk Utility does not allow you to erase the device that contains the startup volume. If you want to erase this device, you need to either boot in the recovery mode or start you MAC from another disk.

From the Format Popup menu, you need to select the disk you want to format.

Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled): It uses the MAC format and is case sensitive, i.e. folder having the same name but one having the name in capital letters and other in small would be treated differently.

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Mac OS Extended(Journaled): It is for the protection of file system integrity and it uses Mac format.

Mac OS Extended (Encrypted, Case Sensitive, Journaled): It encrypts the disk, requires a password, is case sensitive and uses Mac format.

Max OS Extended (Encrypted, Journaled): It encrypts the disk, requires a password and uses Mac format.

ExFAT: If a disk is over 32 GB, it will use PC format else uses Mac format.

MS-DOS (FAT): It also uses PC format for those disks that are either 32 GB or less.

It is possible that certain options are disabled, but this depends upon your disk.

If you plan to use the disk solely on your Mac, we recommend that you use either the Journaled or Extended option. However, if you want to use it on both PC and Mac, opt for one of the PC formats.

NOTE:  For ExFAT and MS-DOS partition, it is imperative that the disk name of maximum 11 characters due to the limitation of Microsoft’s file System.

When you encrypt a file, you will give it a password. Don’t forget to lose this password, as every time you connect to the computer, you will have to enter the data. Without the password, the data won’t be decrypted and you won’t be able to access it.

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Change Encryption Password

To change the password, go to Disk Utility, from the Sidebar, you need to select the Change Password option. In case you want to turn off the encryption, select the “Decrypt (name of the disk) and the popup menu that will appear once you click on the options click located on the desktop.

Encryption without losing data

You can encrypt your file without erasing it first, to do so, you need to enable the Apple’s FileVault encryption. Go to Security & Privacy>Encrypt (name of the disk). You can find the security and privacy in the pane of the System Preferences.

Type in the new name of your disk, next to the NAME option.

To remove just a certain partition and not the complete disk, click on Scheme menu and choose the desired partition.

Below are the listed Schemes that are available.

GUID Partition Map: This option should be used only with the Intel-based Macs.

Master Boot Record (aka “fdisk”): This option should be selected when you are using the secondary disk that contains the window operating system that was installed via Boot Camp. Or for the external disk that you use with Windows.

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Apple Partition Map: This option should only be used when the disk is to be used with Mac computer (PowerPC) using macOS version 10.4 or below.

Preventing erased files from being recovered

To prevent your erased data to be recovered, you need to first click on the Security Options and then from the slider, choose the number of Disk Utility should write over the data that you have erased.

These Secure Erase options are not available for flash drivers as Apple suggests that you use one of the secure FileVault disk encryption with any external SSD drive that you are using.

With the fastest option, your data is not securely erased from the disk. That is anyone has the ability to recovery your data. However, with the next option, a pass of random data is written on your disk and then single zeros are passed over the entire disk removing all information that can be used to access your files.

The last two option tend to write over the data for about three times. This meets the U.S. Department of Energy stands for erasing your data completely and securely.

Now hit the Erase button so that Disk Utility can start formatting your Disk.

Once the process starts, the disk icon will disappear from your desktop, but you need not to worry. Once the Disk Utility finishes formatting, it will reappear in the Finder or elsewhere in the system too.

Once the process is completed, click on Done and close the Disk Utility app.

NOTE: Since everything on your disk is going to be deleted, so if you want to save something from it, you need to make a backup of that data.

You are done, your disk is now completely formatted and erased. To Eject the disk, right click on the icon for the external storage device located on the desktop and then select Eject. Or you can simply drag the device icon to the Trash. If you do not properly unmount an external device before you unplug it might result in data loss.

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