How to format larger SD Cards for Raspberry Pi

How to format larger SD Cards for Raspberry Pi

If you have ever used an SD card with a capacity of over 32GB you may have run into some problems when using it with your Raspberry Pi. The reason for this is that SD cards of larger capacities will by default use a format unsupported by the Raspberry Pi to allow for the use of the full capacity of the SD card.

By default, many SD card formatters will format cards below 32GB as FAT32, and cards that are above 32GB as exFAT (which is not supported by Raspberry Pi). Fortunately, it is relatively easy to work around this problem using a minimal number of steps.

Formatting the SD Card

Before continuing, we’d like to point out that we did not have a larger capacity SD card to test this on, however, the principles remain very much the same. On a secondary note, you will need either a Windows or OS X computer with an SDXC card slot. Also, it is worth bearing in mind that reformatting SD cards will result in the loss of data, so make a backup first if there is anything important you wish to keep.

First, we must download and then use the SD-CARD associations formatter application. This is available to download from the SD-CARD association’s site. After you have this downloaded and installed we can move on to the preliminary formatting of the drive.

How to format larger SD Cards for Raspberry Pi


Strangely enough, the method of formatting SD cards seems to differ whether you are using a Mac or a Windows PC, even though the software is much the same. If you are using OS X ensures that you check “Overwrite Format” and select the “Option” button in which you must then check “Logical Address Adjustment” as yes.


In Windows this is slightly different, simply click the “Option” button and select “FULL (OverWrite)” for the format type drop-down and “On” for the format size adjustment dropdown.

Formatting as FAT32

To finalize formatting our “fat”, if you pardon the pun, SD Card we must reformat it so that it can be recognized by our Raspberry Pi. Thankfully there is a neat little tool we can use to reformat our SD card as FAT32.

The tool can be downloaded from Ridgecrop Consultants Ltd, unfortunately, this is for Windows only but alas OS X provides the Disk Utility application which can also do this for you. You should now be able to successfully use NOOBS off of your Raspberry Pi since the boot loader is now utilizing a recognized format. Take care when using the FAT32 Formatter for Windows by ensuring that you are formatting the correct drive, or else it could become a rather costly error.