How to Format WD My Passport for Mac

So you just 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 pre-formatted with NTFS, a file system that works with Windows only. The drive will be “read-only” and unusable when you first plug it into your Mac.

Fortunately, formatting your WD my Passport external hard drive to work with a Mac computer is simple. And the whole process will take less than 15 minutes to complete. 

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

In this guide, I will show you how to make your WD My Passport usable step by step, so you can save files to the drive, instead of just “read-only”.

Detailed Steps to Format WD My Passport on a Mac

Formatting it to the right file system for your Mac is simple. Just follow the steps below.

1. Go to Finder

With your WD My Passport plugged-in, open Finder. “Finder” is in your dock, or you can find it in Launchpad or use the spotlight search.

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, your WD My Passport Drive should now be visible on your Mac Desktop.

Note: if you have multiple monitors, it will show on your main display by default. 

2. Launch Disk Utility 

You can find the Disk Utility app in the Launchpad or by using the spotlight search button. 

3. Find Your WD My Passport Drive

Once the Disk Utility is open, find your WD My Passport drive in the list, located 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, unplug and then reattach the drive.

4. Format 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.

Note: This will format the drive and 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 new 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 a new file system format that allows 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.

Next, click “Done” when the formatting is complete. It could take a few minutes depending on the volumn of your disk. 

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 make sure it works. 

7. Eject WD My Passport Drive

When you finish 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 have followed the step-by-step instruction above, your WD My Passport drive should now work seamlessly with your Mac.

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

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