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Ubuntu: format USB disks [Guide]

Do you have a USB device like a flash drive or USB hard drive that you need to format on your Ubuntu PC? Can’t figure out how to go about it? We can help! Follow along as we show you how to format a USB device on Ubuntu!

Before we begin

In this guide, we will format a USB device on Ubuntu in various ways. However, Ubuntu isn’t the only operating system that these instructions work on. If you use Linux Mint, Elementary OS, Zorin OS, Peppermint, or another Ubuntu-based operating system, this guide will work for you as well.

So, if you’re using an Ubuntu-based operating system and are trying to figure out how to format a USB device, don’t worry! You’ll be able to follow along with this guide just fine!

Ubuntu format USB – Gparted

A straightforward way to format a USB device on Ubuntu is via the Gparted partitioning application. It’s a very easy to use program that allows you to visually view all attached storage devices so that you can modify, format, and edit file systems, including ones connected via USB.

Install Gparted

As great and as easy as Gparted makes formatting USB devices, it is not pre-installed on Ubuntu. So, we must demonstrate how to install the app on Ubuntu. 

Software Center

If you’re not a fan of the command-line and want to get Gparted set up on your Ubuntu operating system, you can do it through the Ubuntu Software Center. To start the process, open up “Ubuntu Software.”

Once the app is open, find the search button and click on it with the mouse. Then, type out “Gparted” in the search box. After typing out Gparted, it’ll show up in the search results. Select it with the mouse.

After selecting “Gparted” in the search results, it’ll load up in Ubuntu Software Center. From here, find the “Install” button, and click on it with the mouse. Then, enter your password and allow Ubuntu to install Gparted.

Once installed, you can launch Gparted directly by clicking “Launch” in Ubuntu Software Center.

Terminal

If you’re a terminal fan, you can quickly get Gparted installed on Ubuntu with the following command below in a terminal window.

sudo apt install gparted

Ubuntu: Format USB with Gparted

After installing the Gparted application on your Ubuntu PC, plug in the USB device you wish to format and launch the Gparted app. Then, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: Inside of Gparted, look to the screen’s top-right section for the filesystem menu. In this menu, look for your USB device, and select it with the mouse. We’ll be using a Sandisk USB Flash drive about 14.59 GB in size in this example.

Can’t find your USB device? Remember its size in Megabytes and match it up to the right choice in the filesystem menu.

Step 2: After selecting the USB device in the filesystem menu, Gparted will show you the device’s partition layout. In this example, our USB device has one large NTFS filesystem.

From here, right-click on the filesystem with the mouse. Then, choose the “Format to” option.

Step 3: Once you’ve selected the “Format to” option in the menu, you will see many different filesystem choices. Pick the one you wish to format your USB flash drive to. On Linux, the best option is “ext4”!

Step 4: Locate the checkmark button in the top-left section of Gparted, and click on it to start the formatting process. When the process is complete, close Gparted.

Ubuntu format USB – Gnome Disks

If Gparted is a bit too complicated for you, another way to format USB devices on Ubuntu is with Gnome Disks. It’s pre-installed on the Gnome version of Ubuntu and is easy to install on other flavors.

If you’re using a Ubuntu version that does not have Gnome Disks pre-installed, you will need to install it before continuing. To install it, open up a terminal window on the Ubuntu desktop by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T. After that, execute the apt install command below.

sudo apt install gnome-disk-utility

Once the Gnome Disks app is installed, open it up on the Ubuntu desktop by searching for it in the app menu. Then, plug in your USB device. In this example, we’ll use a Sandisk USB Flash drive about 14.59 GB in size.

Inside Gnome Disks, look to the sidebar on the left for your USB device, and click on it to access it. After clicking on the device, find the menu in the top-right corner (next to minimize) and click on it. Then, select the “format disk” option.

After selecting the “format disk” option, a menu will appear. Set it to (Quick). Then, click on the “Format” button to format the USB device. Keep in mind that the format may take a couple of seconds to finish.

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