If you do not often transfer files physically between devices, you may not remember the importance of file-format compatibility. However, it becomes relevant when attempting to transfer files on a USB thumb drive to another person. If both users have Macs, there is no issue, but when using both Mac and Windows systems, you may consider formatting the thumb drive as FAT32.
However, FAT32 is outdated and not suitable for current use. It was created for a time when file sizes were smaller than 4GB. A better option would be to choose ExFAT, which has replaced FAT32 (although it is also quite old). ExFAT is most effective for drives with a capacity of 32GB or more.
Before formatting a drive as ExFAT, make sure you have a backup of all the data stored on it, as the formatting process will delete all the contents. Follow these steps:
Connect the drive to your Mac.
Open the Disk Utility application (located in Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility).
Choose the desired drive from the sidebar on the left side.
Choose ExFAT from the Format menu.
Select Master Boot Record from the Scheme menu.
Press the Erase button and then follow the instructions to confirm.
This article from Mac 911 is a response to a query submitted by a reader of Macworld, named Robin.
We have additional guidance on formatting a drive on a Mac in a separate article.
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