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How to format a hard drive

This article will show how to format a hard drive using Disk Utility, a helpful application that comes with every Mac.

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When you format a hard drive, you’re setting up the drive so it can read and write data on your computer. It’s not a task you’d do on a frequent basis. When you buy a new hard drive, it’s usually pre-formatted, so all you have to do is connect it to your Mac.

But there may come a time when you need to format a hard drive. For example, if you bought a hard drive that wasn’t specifically geared towards Macs, it’s probably formatted for Windows. Re-formatting the drive can help improve performance and is required if you want to use the drive with Time Machine. Another example: You bought a new Mac, and you’re giving your old Mac away. Formatting the hard drive erases the data.

This article will show how to format a hard drive using Disk Utility, a helpful application that comes with every Mac. It’s easy, and takes a few minutes. The steps here are using Mac OS X 10.6.7 and should be similar for older OS versions.


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Step 3: Security Options

Click on the Security Options button. Here, you determine how to erase the data thatundefineds currently on the drive. Apple provides brief explanations of each method. Select one of the methods further down the list, and you'll need more time to format the driveundefinedin some cases, it can take many, many hours. For example, with the Donundefinedt Erase Data option, formatting the 1GB flash drive in this example is almost instantaneous. Formatting using the 35-Pass Erase option takes two hours. Select a Secure Erase Option that youundefinedre comfortable with and click OK.


  • Step 1: Meet Disk Utility
  • Step 2: Select a format
  • Step 3: Security Options
  • Step 4: Erase
  • Step 5: Done


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