How to format USB drive in Fedora?

I am new to Fedora. I am moving away from Macs.
I don’t understand formatting in Disks Utility. Been doing it for years in Mac using their Disk Utility, I’d just click on the relevant drive and choose a format type. When I do this I can choose EXFAT (among other options) and this is then usable for both Mac and Linux. But when I tried formatting in Fedora, its not usable in Mac and the Mac says “Not readable: Initialise Disk” when I insert it.
It seems Fedora only offers two options to format, one which says “usable in all machines” (or something similar), which it is not as I tried that!
Any beginner-level advice appreciated. Thanks

You don’t mention your Fedora and macOS versions, the Fedora GUI environment (Gnome, KDE, or …), or which format you used in Fedora. Here, Fedora 39 using Gnome, exFAT is available under “Other” in the “Format Volume” Window. I have an old iMac that hasn’t booted macOS for years, but I was able to read USB keys formatted with exFAT. I don’t recall seeing the message you describe. What I remember is a popup window:

Yes that’s the message I got. Unreadable.
I am using Fedora 39 Workstation which I have just today downloaded and installed. My mac is running OSX 10.14.6 (mojave).
You said “in the Format Volume” window. I can’t seem to find one of those, all I get is a “Format Disk” window. in there I don’t have any “other” options. Just two drop downs “Erase” and “Partitioning”. neither of them contain an “other” option. So I have two sets of choices:

Choice 1 - Erase:

  • Don’t overwrite existing data (quick)
  • Overwrite existing data with zeroes (slow)

Choice 2 - Partitioning:

  • Compatible with all systems and devices (MBR/DOS)
  • Compatible with modern systems and hard disks >2TB (GPT)
  • No partitioning (empty)

Part of my confusion is I don’t see the term “Volume” used anywhere. I can either click the 3 dots top right (in Disks utility) and choose “format disk”, or I can click the little gears icon under a partition and choose “format partition”.

P.S. I have never formatted “partitions” before, just an entire drive/device. Hence I am choosing to “format disk”, which gives me the options described above.


exFAT is a Microsoft invention. See Microsoft Volume Management

I usually create a GPT partition. For a USB stick I use one partition for the full space available. It might be useful to use Gnome DIsks to examine a USB key formatted on your Mac.

Didn’t realise exfat was an MS thing.

I am just looking for a super simple way to format a USB drive on Linux to make it usable to move files around. Due to moving from Mac, I was hoping to format in a way so that I can connect it to either Mac or Linux PC and have it be readable/writable from/to both. Is that even possible?

To (kind of) answer my own question, as mentioned in my opening post, the only way I can see to do it is to format on mac. that way I can use it on both OS’s. was hoping linux could do similar, as it seems to be able to do at least what mac can do, and more, usually.

You mentioned creating a GPT partition. This is an area I know nothing about and scares me a bit . I have never had to create “partitions” before. I’d just format the USB drive (or hard drive). I do know that partitions exist, but are you saying I must understand and implement the use of partitions to be able to use Linux and format sticks etc properly? Shame, was hoping by just formatting a USb drive, that would wipe it and presumably create ONE partition based on the choice I made in the formatting options


With gnome Disks you first format the disk from the three dots menu. Then you click on the “+” sign to add a partition. This step will combine the creating of the partition and creating the file system of you chosen type.

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OOOH!! That’s good to know, thanks.