Format USB Flash Drive to exFAT on Windows and Mac

Should You Format USB Flash Drive to exFAT or FAT32?

ExFAT is one of the many file formats that Windows can read. But what difference does it make? Windows typically uses the NTFS file system, whereas macOS uses the HFS+ file system. While NTFS is readable in macOS and HFS+ in Windows, when it comes to cross-platform, you cannot write anything. They are only read-only.

File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32) is an older file system of Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT). ExFAT is a relatively new file system that first appeared in 2006. The most notable feature of this file system is that it compensates for FAT32's limitation of a maximum file size of 4GB. Furthermore, exFAT works well with large partitions up to 8 TB. There is no doubt that exFAT has drawbacks, which you should be aware of before formatting a USB drive to exFAT. ExFAT has lower compatibility than FAT32.

Here's a table of comparisons between FAT32 and exFAT for better understanding.




It functions with all versions of Windows and modern Mac OS X and Linux.

It is the most compatible file system available.


There is no realistic file or partition size limit.

Limited to 4 GB files and smaller, up to 16 TB partitions

Ideal Use

It is suitable for external drives that will be used on multiple operating systems. It has a larger file size and partition limits than FAT32.

Removable storage devices

File Size Limit

Up to 16 EiB potentially, limited by partition.

4 GB

Partition Limit

Maximum of 128 PiB (144,115 TB)

16 TB

Note: Before we begin, please make a backup of everything on your hard drive. If you lost data after formatting and have no backup, you can use Wondershare Recoverit to recover the exFAT data.

How To Format USB Flash Drive to exFAT on Windows

Presented here are the four methods to conveniently format a USB flash drive to exFAT on Windows.

Method 1: Using File Explorer - The Easiest Windows exFAT Formatter
Step 1. Connect the USB or external hard drive to your PC or laptop running Windows.

Right-click the USB or external disk in File Explorer and select Format.

click format

Step 2. Set the file system to ExFAT, check to perform a quick format, and then click Start.
choose exfat format on the drive using file explorer

Step 3. Press OK to the format warning and wait for the process to finish.
click ok to finish formatting usb
Method 2: Using Disk Management - Windows Built-in Formatter
Step 1. Connect an external hard drive or a USB flash drive to your Windows computer.

To open Disk Management, search for Create and format hard disk partitions.

format drive to exfat using disk management

Step 2. Select Format from the context menu of the USB or external hard drive.

Select exFAT as the file system and check to Perform a quick format before clicking OK to confirm.

format usb drive to exfat using disk management
Method 3: Using DiskPart - Windows CMD Formatting Tool
Step 1. Connect the USB or external hard drive to a computer running Windows.

To open it, press Windows + R, type diskpart, and click OK.

open diskpart in run dialog windows

Step 2. Enter the following command lines one at a time, making sure to enter the correct command lines each time.

To carry out the following operations, press Enter:

  • list disk
  • select disk 2 (replace 2 with the USB or external drive number)
  • list partition
  • select partition 2 (replace 2 with the volume number of your USB or external disk)
  • format fs=exfat quick
format usb to exfat using diskpart or cmd

Upon formatting the USB or external hard drive, connect it to both your Windows and Mac computers to transfer and share files as needed.

Method 4: Using AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard - Free Disk Formatter and Disk Manager

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a free USB exFAT format tool that can help you convert a USB flash drive, a USB hard drive, a thumb drive, a pen drive, or an SD card from FAT32 or NTFS to exFAT. Cluster sizes range from 0.5KB to 32MB, which is more than enough for most applications. Supported operating systems include Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. Download and test this tool for free.

Here are the steps to format a USB drive to exFAT in Windows using AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard.

Step 1. Connect a USB drive to your PC.

Install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant, and your USB stick will be visible in the main interface. Select Format Partition from the menu that appears when you right-click the partition on your USB drive.

select format partition from the menu

Step 2. Choose exFAT from the drop-down menu next to File System on the pop-up small page.
select exfat

Step 3. If necessary, specify Cluster Size.
specify cluster size

Step 4. After your confirmation, click Apply and then Proceed.
proceed to format usb to exfat

Bonus Tips: If your USB drive appears "Unallocated," right-click the unallocated space and select Create Partition to create an exFAT-formatted partition. That is yet another method for converting the USB format to exFAT.

Additional information for paid features and price

The Standard version of AOMEI Partition Assistant is free, while the Professional version costs $49.95 for a single (2x PC) license with a lifetime upgrade option for $59.95.

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard can also format a 64GB SD card from exFAT to FAT32. The Professional edition of AOMEI Partition Assistant allows you to convert an MBR system disk to a GPT disk without reinstalling it. With the assistance of AOMEI Partition Assistant, you can easily upgrade to a Windows 11 system.

How To Format USB Flash Drive to exFAT on Mac

If you're using a Mac and need a step-by-step guide to format a USB or external hard drive to ExFAT, you can use Disk Utility.

Use Disk Utility

Here are the steps to format a USB or external hard drive to ExFAT on Mac using disk utility:

Step 1. Connect an external hard drive or a USB flash drive to your Mac.

To open it, press Command + Space, type Disk Utility in the spotlight, and press Return.

connect an external hard drive on mac

Step 2. In Disk Utility, select the USB or external hard drive on the left pane and then click Erase on the top menu.
click erase on the hard drive

Step 3. Choose ExFAT as the file format from the Format drop-down menu.
choose exfat as a file format

Step 4. Finally, confirm the operation by clicking Erase.
confirm the formatting process


File Explorer, Disk Management, Command Prompt, and a professional third-party format tool can all be used to complete the formatting process to ExFAT on Windows. Meanwhile, on Mac, employing Disk Utility is the best option to format the USB drive to ExFAT.

Take a look at Wondershare Recoverit now to recover your data loss, and we will guide you through formatting the USB drive to ExFAT on Windows and Mac.

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