Are you wondering how to format your SD Card to FAT32 on your Macbook?
Then you’ve landed in the right place! In this tutorial I’m going to guide you through a few  simple, yet effective methods that you can use to format any SD memory cards to FAT32.

Format SD Card

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)

Quick Guide: How to Format an 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.

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.

What causes ‘Can’t Format SD card’ on Mac?

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.


Final Words

Today, most of the data is stored digitally. Although it’s very efficient in terms of storage and safety, there are several problems with it too. While trying to format the data on your SD Card, you might come across a situation where you accidentally erase the wrong SD Card or drive. So, you’re advised to be cautious at every step while you’re at it! Otherwise, you may risk to lose your precious data.

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