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Question: Why OS X is limited to FAT16

I tried to format an SD card for a camera with OS X and it seemed to be fine until the card was used in a camera. The camera can only read FAT32 partitions. 😟 Why is OS X limited to FAT partitions? Does Microsoft have control over FAT32? The limitations with FAT is a max of 4GB partitions. 😟 It's just inconvenient having to format SD and CF cards in the camera or within Windoze. Am I doing something wrong and there is actually a FAT32 partition within DIsk Utility? So far I haven't seen any evidence that the Disk Utility goes beyond FAT (FAT16).

Macbook Pro (Late 2008), Mac OS X (10.6.3), 4GB Core2Duo 2.4

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May 12, 2010 4:39 PM in response to LCee In response to LCee

Disk Utility tries to do what is "right". It will format smaller drives with FAT16 and larger ones with FAT32.

I think you have to use the command line to force a smaller drive to be FAT32.

Run "diskutil list" to see a list of your drives.
Then do "diskutil eraseVolume "MS-DOS FAT32" <volume name> /dev/disk<n>s<m>

Where <volume name> is the name you want to give it. <n> is the disk number. <m> is the partition number.

May 12, 2010 4:39 PM

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May 12, 2010 4:41 PM in response to LCee In response to LCee

Disk Utility framework is capable of any msdos fat format, but unfortunately, the GUI version
doesn't give you many choices, and what it decides should be the right format can be wrong.

This, of course, leaves you little choice but to use the command line (Terminal.app) to do it, or
purchase a third party Disk Partitioning Utility, such as iPartition.

There is a third option, use windows to do it, if you have boot camp installed or a virtual machine
client (Parallels, Fusion, etc.).

The Terminal command format is as follows:
diskutil partitionDisk <device> 1 MBRFormat "MS-DOS FAT32" <volume_name> <partition_size>
where:
<device> = BSD name of source disk, example: /dev/disk4 or
volume mount point, example: /Volumes/SD

<volume_name> = whatever you want to call it!
If you use spaces, enclose the name in quotes.
example: SD or "My SD"

<partition_size> = floating point numbers followed by a
letter or percent sign
Examples: 1G (1 gigabyte), 1000K (1000 KILOBYTES), 5.5M (5.5 megabytes),
25.4% (25.4 percent of whole disk size).

example:
diskutil partitionDisk /Volumes/SD 1 MBRFormat "MS-DOS FAT32" "My SD" 100%

##
partitionDisk device [numberOfPartitions] [[APM]Format | [MBR]Format |
[GPT]Format] [part1Format part1Name part1Size part2Format
part2Name part2Size part3Format part3Name part3Size ...]

in terminal run command:
man diskutil

(for more info)

May 12, 2010 4:41 PM

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Question: Why OS X is limited to FAT16