How to Format a Seagate Drive to HFS+

There is a large number of reasons why Mac users might want to format their storage devices. The formatting is needed if they plan to sell their Mac and want to get rid of their personal data. Or maybe a user has bought a drive that is preformatted for Windows. Another reason to format a drive is to use it for backup of their machine. Disk Utility, which comes with every macOS, can be used in all of the above cases. The app is stored in the Utility folder and helps to erase, format, and partition internal and external drives alike.

When formatting their storage devices, it is recommended to choose Apple File System (APFS) as a file format. However, given that a device formatted with APFS is not accessible by Macs that are running on macOS versions other than High Sierra, many Apple users stick to the older file format – macOS Extended (HFS+). The contents of a drive formatted to HFS+ can be read even by Windows-based machines, which makes it a good choice for anyone who has a Mac and a PC.

After upgrading their Mac to macOS High Sierra, owners of Seagate external hard drives have discovered that the devices cannot be formatted to HFS+ in Disk Utility, which majorly inconveniences them. The article details how to properly address this issue.

What Needs to Be Done

Users who regularly share their Seagate drive with PC-owning colleagues will not benefit from formatting it to APFS because it will not be accessible by Windows. Here’s how to format the drive if one is planning to use it on macOS and Windows machines:

  1. Open the Applications and proceed to Utilities;
  2. In the Utilities folder, find and launch Disk Utility (alternatively power up the Seagate drive and click on the Initialize button in a pop-up window);
  3. In the View section, click on Show All Devices;

Show All Devices

  1. Select the Seagate drive from the list of available devices instead of a mounted volume;
  2. Select the Erase option (Note that the app will automatically assign a file format. If a Mac runs under macOS High Sierra, the default format will be APFS. In such a case, the user has to manually change it to HFS+);

Formatting Options

  1. Click on the Formatting Options to change the format type;
  2. In a drop-down window, select HFS+;
  3. Click on the OK button;
  4. Name the drive;
  5. Click on the Security Options button and select the Most Secure option to overwrite the drive several times, thereby safely erasing existing files (if a user doesn’t have time for higher security, they can use the Fastest option by moving the slider to the left);
  6. Click on the Erase button;

After the drive has been successfully formatted, it can be used for backups or file sharing with PC owners. It is important to note that the drive can be formatted to APFS any time; however, after formatting, it couldn’t be used as a Time Machine backup. It has to do with the fact that during the conversion from HFS+ to APFS hard links on a volume are broken. It means that even though files will be present on the drive, they won’t be accessible by Time Machine.

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