How to Format SD Card to FAT32 for Pi 3: Guide

format SD card to fat32This guide will show you how to your format SD card to FAT32 (64, or 256 gigabyte) from exFAT for use in raspberry pi 3.

Formatting the SD card, particularly SDXC (64GD and above), to fat32 is usually the first step while using “tiny” computing system for Pi 3 projects.

Previously, I was using DISKPART but now I have found better ways.

But under what circumstances would you need to format the Raspberry Pi SD card?

  1. To increase storage capacity because of pre-partition
  2. To remove a preloaded Operating System and install another one
  3. To clean any corrupt software and files from the card

How to Format SD Card for Raspberry Pi – Step By Step

Caution: Before following this Guide, ensure you have a backup all the important data or files on your computer or on the external device that you will be converting to a FAT32.

1. Format SD card FAT32 in windows 10

First, maybe you already know that Windows with an in-built format utility. However, this format utility will not format any FAT32 (USB drive or SD card), which is usually bigger than 32GB.

Notably, if you need to format the FAT32 partition and right-click the SD card in windows on file system format, it only show just the exFAT and NTFS options.

Maybe you love using command line top covert the 32GB card to FAT32. But this is not possible for anything larger than 32Gb. It’ll get to 90% and say it failed.

Therefore, for our formatting purpose today, we’ll not be going to the windows in-built format utility.

Step 1: Purchase a compatible Pi 3 SD card, specifically a Micro SD card.

Some of the great SD cards that will come with an adapter are:

  1. Samsung Evo+ 32GB Micro SDHC Class 10
  2. SanDisk Extreme-PRO – 95MB/s
  3. Raspberry Pi Official

Further, you may purchase Raspberry Pi 3 starter kit on amazon, which comes with an SD card. Therefore, if the SD card size is larger than 32 GB continue to step 2 where we convert it to FAT32.

Step 2: Format the SDXC Card (64 GB or larger) for Pi 3.

Note that SDFormatter will not format your SD card whose capacity is bigger than 32GB. Therefore, you’ll need to download another software such as the fat32format. Other options of the FAT32 Format tool, but not so easy to use, are EaseUS Partition.

  1. Download the FAT32 Format tool (guiformat.exe download) by ridgecrop consultants. Run the tool on your computer. Note, you’ll not need to installation anything!
  2. Note that the GUI version of your downloaded FAT32 Format tool will be akin the windows built-in format tool.
  3. Run the downloaded formatter tool while the “FORMAT SIZE ADJUSTMENT” is adjusted to be “ON”, to delete all the micro-SD card partitions.
  4. Then, now you can pick the drive you wish to format (the letter for the SDXC Card) as shown on “This PC” and run the guiformat.exe tool (FAT32 Format). Ensure all other options are at default and hit “Start”.
  5. However, FAT32 Format will not conduct disk integrity checks for your SDXC Card after formatting.
  6. Therefore, after formatting the DS card, you’ll need to run this command “chkdsk /R x:” in this case you’ll replace the letter “x:” with the name of the SD card drive. Take some break, this process could take time to finish!
  7. After you are done, you can now go ahead to the Pi 3 Operating System Installation.

2. How to format SD card to fat32 on mac

Unlike Windows, Mac OS X has inbuilt formatting tools to enable you to format your micro-SD / SD card to FAT32.

However, note that the SD card partition could be named MS-DOS or FAT.

So, who do you format the SD card to FAT32?

Step by Step:

  1. Connect the SD card or the SD card adapter holding the SD card to the Mac computer
  2. Click and open the Disk Utility.
  3. Select the SD card storage on the left panel.
  4. Click and alter it to “erase tab.”
  5. Go to the Volume Format and hit the “erase” option
  6. Confirm the action by hitting Erase
  7. After the formatting is completed, shut your Disk Utility

How to Format 128GB SD card FAT32

Equally, like the other SD cards with the exFAT32 partition format (any with capacity over 32GB) the 128GB SD card will not be formatted by the Disk Management and Diskpart utility in windows.

Therefore, you’ll only get errors such as these:

  1. For Command Prompt – “volume is too large for FAT32”
  2. For Disk Management – “Windows is unable to complete drive format”

Therefore, you’ll also need to use another software to format the 128GB SD card.

For windows 10 and other Windows, you can download the Formatting Tool for effective formatting of the 128GB SD card.

Step By Step:

Caution: Like I have noted above, you’ll need to back up all the important files and data that is in the 128GB SD card you want to format.

  1. Insert the 128GB SD card to the PC using the card reader (for the micro-SD card only).
  2. Download, install and start the Formatting Tool
  3. Check the Formatting Tool’s main windows and notice the SD card showing behind your current hard drive.
  4. Click on the SD card (Right click) and hit the “format partition” button
  5. Check the appearing window and select the “FAT32” partition and hit “ok”
  6. Click “Apply” to format.