Table of Contents

When it comes to hard drives, you’re more familiar with formatting external ones than with your Mac’s internal ones. Because there is almost never a need to format the internal drive, this is almost always the standard procedure.

On the other hand, errors may prevent it from reading and writing data, notwithstanding its type. In other words, you can’t save anything on the drive, and you can’t even copy or erase anything from it!

It’s possible that an external hard disk you attach to your Mac has been turned to read-only mode. NTFS filesystem, which macOS does not support by default, is the source of this issue. Fortunately, turning off read-only mode on your external hard drive is a simple process.

It’s possible that the only sensible way to repair it is to format your disk, but other times, a few easy tweaks can do the trick and get it back up and running.

Fixing Format Errors on A Mac Computer

Formatting your hard disk should take you no more than a few minutes. It’s important to remember that this isn’t always true. Occasionally, your Mac tries to make things a bit more difficult for you. Take it easy.

The following are a few solutions that have been compiled for your convenience.

Method 1: Using Disk Utility

Do you see errors on your Mac that look like those in the picture below? There is a good chance that you have no idea what causes them. Fortunately, correcting them is a piece of cake.

fix can’t format disk on Mac

First, go to your “Utilities” folder, followed by your “Applications” directory. Find and open “Disk Utility” from the list.

fix can’t format disk on Mac

Select “Show All Devices” from the “View” dropdown box. Proceed by selecting the “Top Volume” of a drive that must be formatted.

Select “Erase” and then give the drive a name. You have the option of selecting APFS or Mac OS Extended when it comes to the “Format” field.

A “Scheme” must be selected (go with “GUID Partition Map”). You need to start by selecting “Erase” from the menu and then waiting until the checkmark appears in green. That implies it’s all done now.

fix can’t format disk on Mac

Method 2: Using Terminal

To erase a hard drive using the command line, follow these instructions.

The first step is to open the Finder and search for “utility” under Applications.

Type “diskutil list” in the terminal as an administrator. There’s a lot of information here about your Mac’s drives and volumes.

fix can’t format disk on Mac

A disk or a volume may be erased using the “erase disk” command or “erase volume” command.

Disk2 should be erased using the “diskutileraseDisk HFS+ DISK disk2” command in the HFS+ format.

Method 3: Update The MacOS

The error message “format process has failed “may appear on your Mac if it is operating on an older version than what is currently available. If you update the firmware on your Mac to the most current version, you should be able to repair the issue without too much trouble.

You may check for new versions of macOS by going to the App Store and doing a search for the most current update for it, or you can click the Apple logo at the top of a screen, go to System Preferences, then Software Update, and do a search for it there.

Method 4: Use The Mac Recovery Partition

To use the Mac Recovery Partition, follow these instructions.

Restart the Mac while holding down the OPTIONS key, and then choose the Recovery partition as the first option.

From the boot menu, choose “Disk Utility” and click “First Aid” to inspect and repair the drive, or click “Erase” to format the disk.

The “disk wipe failed Mac” issue will be resolved using this procedure.

Method 5: Adjust The Security Levels

To change the security settings for formatting an external device, follow these instructions.

Go to your Mac’s Disk Utility and attach your external drive there.

Once you’ve selected the device, tap the “Erase” button on it. Select Security Options from the newly opened window.

fix can’t format disk on Mac

You may adjust the security level for formatting the device from here. To avoid seeing the notice “can’t erase Mac hard disk,” set the security level as low as possible.


You should care when it comes to formatting the hard disk on your Mac; nevertheless, you should not be alarmed into believing that the process is difficult or time-consuming. It’s simple to fix when you get a hard disk issue while using your Mac.

If the drive is failing because of physical damage to the hardware, this is the only circumstance in which you could need the assistance of another person.

DoYourData Super Eraser for Mac is a powerful Mac data erasure application which is able to securely and permanently wipe data from external hard drive. It also can help you format external hard drive, USB flash drive or other device on Mac.

DoYourData Super Eraser for Mac

  • Permanently erase data on Mac.
  • Securely and easily format external hard drive on Mac.
  • Format and repair damaged or inaccessible external hard drive.
DoYourData Author

Written & Updated by Nancy

Nancy works as a tech columnist at DoYourData. She is familiar with macOS and Windows OS and writes computer solution, data recovery, disk clone, data erasure articles for DoYourData. She is a big fan of Mac products and is fond of testing utilities software (such as cleaner, recovery, eraser, NTFS for Mac, video editor, etc) on Mac.

Read full bio