If you’re a Macbook user and looking to format your SD card to FAT32, you may find it challenging as Mac OS doesn’t have a native option for formatting to FAT32.

But don’t worry, there are still several simple and effective methods you can use to format your SD card to FAT32 on your Macbook.

In this tutorial, you’ll discover these methods step-by-step to help you format your SD card without any hassle.


How to Format Any SD Card to FAT32 on Mac

If you’re in a hurry and are looking for the easiest way to quickly format your SD Card to FAT32 on Mac, follow the below instructions.

  1. Connect the SD card to the Mac.
  2. Search for Disk Utility in Launchpad and open it.
  3. Select your SD Card and click Erase.
  4. Enter a new name for your SD Card (OPTIONAL).
  5. Choose File System. If the card is 64GB or larger, choose exFAT. If it’s 32GB or smaller, choose FAT32.
  6. Click Erase.

how to format an sd card with a mac


3 More Ways to Format Your SD Card to FAT32 on Mac

Before you start the process of formatting your SD card, we strongly recommend to take a backup of the data on your SD Card.

There are three ways to format your SD Card to FAT32:

  1. Disk Utility
  2. MAC Command Line
  3. SD Card Formatter

Format it by Using Disk Utility

Disk Utility

Once your SD or micro SD card has been backed up, you’re ready to format it. Please note that I have mentioned this method in the quick guide above. But, below are the detailed steps to make it happen:

  1. Insert the SD card into the slot on your Mac or into a card reader connected to the Mac.
  2. Navigate to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Or you can also simply open Disk Utility by typing in the search box available at the top right corner of the screen and then clicking on it.
  3. In the sidebar, select the SD card that you want to format.
  4. Choose file system format. If your SD Card is 64GB or larger, choose exFAT. If it’s 32GB or smaller, choose FAT32.
  5. At the top of Disk Utility, press Erase. After a few moments, you’ll get a message saying ‘The process is complete’.

That’s it! Your task is completed successfully.

Note: Older versions of Mac OS don’t support exFAT. The exFAT support was added to Mac OS X from Snow Leopard (version 10.6.6 onwards) released in 2009.

Format it by Using MAC Command Line (for techies)

This process is a bit complicated but is helpful if the the above-mentioned process is not able to perform correctly due to some reason. The reason may be compatibility issues, errors, or viruses. Here are the steps:

  1. Hit cmd + space to launch spotlight. A box will appear where you can type. Type terminal in this box and press Enter to open.
  2. Insert your SD card into the slot or card reader.
  3. Now, there may be other cards or storage disks connected to your Mac. For Identification of the card you intend to format, type diskutil list. All the available storage will be presented to you in the form of a list.
  4. Select your SD card.
  5. Now, to format the SD card to FAT32 on MAC you need to type the command sudo diskutil eraseDisk FAT 32 SDCARD MBRFormat /dev/disk2

After this process, your password will be asked. Filling it right will start the process of formatting.

Note: In this case, the name of the SD card is “SDCARD” and “/dev/disk2” is the location of the card.

Using SD Card Formatter

This method involves downloading a free SD card formatter app provided by the SD Association. The main advantage of using this method is that it’s very simple to use, involving just a single screen.

Here’s how it looks:

SD Card Formatter

There are several reasons why I feel that using SD Card Formatter is a better way to format the SD Card, as compared to the already installed Disk Utility app on Mac.

Here are some benefits of using this app:

  1. SD Card Formatter automatically detects an SD card and doesn’t display non-SD cards. So, the risk of accidentally erasing the wrong drive is eliminated.
  2. This app automatically selects the appropriate file system based on the size of the SD card. For example, if you insert a 128GB SD card, it will select exFAT by default to format it according to SDXC specifications. So, it eliminates risk of selecting a wrong option.

Why Should You Format Your SD Memory Card

Note: Formatting your SD card will delete all its files. So, make sure you make a backup or copy your data onto another drive.

Now, why would you want to format your SD card? Here’s a few reasons:

  • To free up space
  • If you’re facing any problem with your SD card and aren’t sure about what to do
  • To change the file system from one format onto another (eg. FAT32)

To ensure optimal performance and avoid potential errors or data loss, it’s recommended to format your SD memory card regularly. When you delete files from your SD card, the data is not completely removed, which can cause the card to slow down and even corrupt over time. By formatting your SD card, you can free up space and start fresh with a clean slate.

If you’re facing any issues with your SD card, such as error messages or difficulty accessing files, formatting may help resolve the problem. Additionally, if you want to switch to a different file system format, such as FAT32, formatting is necessary.

Formatting your SD memory card can help ensure optimal performance, resolve issues, and allow you to switch to a different file system format if needed. However, it’s important to remember that formatting will delete all data from the card, so be sure to make a backup or copy your files onto another drive before formatting.

format sd card windows


Why Can’t I Format My SD Card to FAT32?

There are several reasons why an SD card may be unable to format despite using the methods described above. Here are some of them:

  1. An unsafe ejection.
  2. A virus attack that has corrupted the files.
  3. The SD card is protected by rights. So, you aren’t allowed to make any changes.
  4. The SD card is corrupted due to the introduction of bad sectors.
  5. The SD card is corrupted due to file system error.

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, it’s also possible that your SD card is simply incompatible with the FAT32 file system. Some newer SD cards have a capacity of more than 32GB and may require a different file system, such as exFAT or NTFS. In such cases, attempting to format the card to FAT32 may result in errors or failure.

Another possible cause of the “Can’t Format SD Card” error could be a problem with your computer’s hardware or software. It’s important to ensure that your computer’s drivers are up-to-date and that there are no issues with the USB port or SD card reader. Additionally, running a virus scan on your computer can help identify and remove any potential threats that could be interfering with the formatting process.

If you’re still unable to format your SD card to FAT32 despite trying multiple methods, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance. A data recovery specialist may be able to recover any lost data and help you format the SD card to the desired file system.

Learn how to fix corrupted SD Card in the following article: How to Fix Corrupted SD Card?

And to understand how to eliminate writing protection read: How to Remove Write Protection on Micro SD Card.

How to Remove Write Protection on Micro SD Card


Last Word Of Advice

Formatting an SD card to FAT32 on your Macbook can be a useful process to free up space, solve any issues with your SD card, or change the file system format. However, it’s essential to remember that formatting will delete all the files on the card, so it’s crucial to back up your data before proceeding.

It’s also important to be cautious during the formatting process to avoid any accidental deletions of the wrong SD card or drive.