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I've got two different USB flash drives which are formatted MS-DOS(FAT-16). When I plug each into my MacBook Pro (running MacOS 10.6 - Snow Leopard), they don't mount. I can see them using Disk Utility. When I run an Ubuntu VM inside of VMWare Fusion, Ubuntu has no trouble mounting these either.

I've tested with the drives plugged directly into the machine and plugged into a usb hub -- both give the same results.

Is there a setting I've inadvertently set which disables automounting? Is there an issue with mounting FAT-16 drives?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

How large is the drive/partition? FAT16 can go as high as 4GB, but (according to Wikipedia) is "not widely supported". XP supports it, but earlier versions of Windows do not: they use the more conservative 2GB limit. Perhaps Mac OS X is also 2GB. (Not a surprise that Linux might support 4GB.) For more than 2GB, use FAT32.

I happen to have a 128MB stick with FAT16, and it mounted fine with Leopard (don't have Snow handy here).

In Disk Utility, what happens if you manually try to Mount the partition; or is it disabled?

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Interesting idea. One drive is 1GB, the other is 2GB. Manually mounting is enabled, but it fails and suggests running First Aid. I ran verify and repair but got the same results when I tried to mount. –  Doug Harris Jan 4 '10 at 20:05
    
The previous comment was for the 2GB drive. The 1GB drive mounted after First Aid. –  Doug Harris Jan 4 '10 at 20:06
    
I reformatted the 2GB drive using Disk Utility as "MS-DOS (FAT)" and it mounts fine. It now reports being formatted as FAT-32. –  Doug Harris Jan 4 '10 at 20:16

Aditional software like NTFS-3G would help you out. Yes, it is not for FAT based, but it seemed like it worked for me on FAT-16. It just provides better support. And, it's free, so why don't give it a try?

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