How to Format WD My Passport for Mac

Formatting your WD my Passport external hard drive on your Mac is simple! And it will take less than 15 minutes of your time. 

I am a Mac enthusiast with over ten years of experience with computers, hard drives, and more. Plus, I own a 2019 Macbook Pro and a 2TB WD external SSD. 

In this guide, I will show you how to make your WD My Passport usable for your Mac instead of “read-only” with detailed step-by-step instructions. 

So, jump in, and let’s get started.  

Steps to Format WD My Passport on Your Mac

If you’re reading this article, you likely recently purchased a WD My Passport external hard drive to back up your Mac. And if you’re like me, you expected it to be “plug and play” and work seamlessly with your Mac right out of the box. 

But, that is not the case, as the WD My Passport drive is usually preformatted with NTFS, a file system that works with Windows. The drive will be “read-only” and unusable when you first plug it into your Mac.

Fortunately, formatting it to the right file system for your Mac is simple. Here are the steps below.

1. Go to Finder

Assuming you’re starting with the Mac powered on and the WD my Passport plugged-in, open Finder. “Finder” is in your dock, or you can find it in Launchpad or use the spotlight search.

After you open Finder, click on “Finder” on the top left of your screen, then select Preferences.

This will open a small window titled Finder Preferences. In this window, ensure Hard disks and External disks both have a checkmark next to them.

Also, change “New Finder windows show:” to Desktop.

Once you’ve made these changes close the Finder Preferences and Finder windows. Your WD my Passport Drive should now be visible on your Desktop. Note: if you have multiple monitors, it will show on your main display by default. 

2. Launch the Disk Utility 

Next, you will need to open “Disk Utility.” You can find it in the Launchpad or by using the spotlight search button. 

3. Find Your WD My Passport Drive in Your Drives

Once the Disk Utility is open, find your WD My Passport drive in the list on the left side of the window. 

The WD my Passport drive will be located under the “External” section of the list. Select it by double-clicking its name. If your drive does not show up here, restart your Mac and unplug, then reattach the drive.

4. Format the WD My Passport Drive

In the Disk Utility window, click on the View dropdown on the top left of the window.

Next, select the WD My Passport device on the list on the left side, then click Erase on the top middle of the window. 

Note: This will format the drive. This will erase all data currently stored on the device. Complete a backup of any files you would like to keep.

5. Choose “Extended Mac OS (Journaled)”

Once you select Erase, a small window will pop up. This is where you will confirm that you would like to permanently erase all data from your WD My Passport drive. 

You can choose a new name in the Name field. But, before you click Erase, make sure the Format is set to “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” and the Scheme is “GUID Partition Map.”

When you click “Erase,” your Mac will begin formatting your WD My Passport drive. 

When it finishes, your drive will be in the file system format that will allow you to easily transfer files between the Mac and WD My Passport drive. Also, the drive will now be compatible with Time Machine on your Mac too. 

 You will have to click “Done” when the formatting finalizes. It could take a few minutes. 

6. Test it Out

Once the formatting is complete, test out your WD My Passport drive on your Mac. Save some files to the drive and ensure it works. 

7. Eject Your WD My Passport Drive

When you are finished backing up your Mac or saving files to the WD my Passport drive, disconnect it properly. Right-click on the drive’s icon on your desktop and select Eject.


If you followed the steps above, your WD My Passport drive should now work seamlessly with your Mac. If you’ve already stored data on your drive, be sure to back it up before formatting. 

Is your drive working with your Mac as expected? Let us know in the comments below. 

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