In Windows 10, when you want to format a partition specifically as FAT32 (for example an SDcard that is going to be used in your phone) when you right-click the disk and choose format, only NTFS and exFAT are shown as possible format options.

Is there another way, preferably without installing an additional tool or booting into a different mode to format as FAT32?

  • If your use-case is specific to phones and no other situation then I believe most phones will format it for you.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Feb 17, 2017 at 15:46
  • @MonkeyZeus true, but I ran into the instance where my phone formatted the card to an unknown layout. my pc would not detect the contents and asked me to format the drive for me. Now, the card works both in my phone and in my pc at the same time.
    – LPChip
    Feb 17, 2017 at 16:47
  • How big is the SD card to be formatted?
    – Nayuki
    Feb 17, 2017 at 18:44
  • @Nayuki in my case 64GB. I ended up having to use a third party tool afterall.
    – LPChip
    Feb 17, 2017 at 22:04
  • Be glad your card was only 64 GB. It looks like there are multiple limits prone to affect FAT32 around the 128GB mark. (I'm not offhand sure if a 128GB would give full capacity easily, I suspect not, but surely not anything larger.) The first of significance may be 129,613,440KB imposed by LBA28, but even if you get past that (which is probably easy with modern equipment/software), but there's also a 133,693,376 KB limit affecting FAT32-specifically.
    – TOOGAM
    Mar 5, 2017 at 18:59

4 Answers 4


While LPChip's answer is 'correct' and should work in most cases unless the partition is over 32gb. I typically use a bit of third party software from ridgecrop that does the same thing but handles larger partitions. I've used their command line fat32formatter extensively over the past few years.

They have a GUI tool that more or less does what it says on the tin now. Formatting speeds are crazy fast and I've not had any issues with it.

enter image description here

  • I indeed ended up using a Verbatim FAT32 format tool to do it for me due to the filesize of 64 gigs being too big. Therefor this answer is accepted, as its technically what I had to do.
    – LPChip
    Feb 17, 2017 at 16:48
  • @LPChip you mean the partition size was larger than the built-in tool would use for fat32?
    – JDługosz
    Feb 17, 2017 at 18:41
  • @JDługosz I mean that its a 64GB card, which was formatted to exFAT by windows, and when I wanted to reformat it to FAT32, it said the card was too big for FAT32.
    – LPChip
    Feb 17, 2017 at 22:03
  • I completely didn't realize your answer was a self answer. Had issues with this in the past, and the ridgecop tool's kind of a standard standby for me ;)
    – Journeyman Geek
    Feb 18, 2017 at 2:22
  • I have to ask because I had the same problem: why do you need this?
    – msysmilu
    Nov 4, 2020 at 11:20

Yes, up to 32 gigs, as I found out later.

The GUI version of format is limited only to NTFS and exFAT, probably because this is what you'll ever need on Windows.

Luckily if you run format from the command prompt, you can specify far more options to format your disk in.

Format /? shows the following:

Formats a disk for use with Windows.

FORMAT volume [/FS:file-system] [/V:label] [/Q] [/L[:state]] [/A:size]
 [/C] [/I:state] [/X] [/P:passes] [/S:state]
FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/F:size] [/P:passes]
FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/T:tracks /N:sectors] [/P:passes]
FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/P:passes]
FORMAT volume [/Q]

  volume          Specifies the drive letter (followed by a colon),
                  mount point, or volume name.
  /FS:filesystem  Specifies the type of the file system (FAT, FAT32, exFAT,
              NTFS, UDF, ReFS).
  /V:label        Specifies the volume label.
  /Q              Performs a quick format. Note that this switch overrides /P.
  /C              NTFS only: Files created on the new volume will be compressed
                  by default.
  /X              Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary.  All opened
                  handles to the volume would no longer be valid.
  /R:revision     UDF only: Forces the format to a specific UDF version
                  (1.02, 1.50, 2.00, 2.01, 2.50).  The default
                  revision is 2.01.
  /D              UDF 2.50 only: Metadata will be duplicated.
  /L[:state]      NTFS Only: Overrides the default size of file record.
                  By default, a non-tiered volume will be formatted with small
                  size file records and a tiered volume will be formatted with
                  large size file records.  /L and /L:enable forces format to
                  use large size file records and /L:disable forces format to
                  use small size file records.
  /A:size         Overrides the default allocation unit size. Default settings
                  are strongly recommended for general use.
                  ReFS supports 64K.
                  NTFS supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K.
                  FAT supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K,
                  (128K, 256K for sector size > 512 bytes).
                  FAT32 supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K,
                  (128K, 256K for sector size > 512 bytes).
                  exFAT supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K,
                  128K, 256K, 512K, 1M, 2M, 4M, 8M, 16M, 32M.

                  Note that the FAT and FAT32 files systems impose the
                  following restrictions on the number of clusters on a volume:

                  FAT: Number of clusters <= 65526
                  FAT32: 65526 < Number of clusters < 4177918

                  Format will immediately stop processing if it decides that
                  the above requirements cannot be met using the specified
                  cluster size.

                  NTFS compression is not supported for allocation unit sizes
                  above 4096.

  /F:size         Specifies the size of the floppy disk to format (1.44)
  /T:tracks       Specifies the number of tracks per disk side.
  /N:sectors      Specifies the number of sectors per track.
  /P:count        Zero every sector on the volume.  After that, the volume
                  will be overwritten "count" times using a different
                  random number each time.  If "count" is zero, no additional
                  overwrites are made after zeroing every sector.  This switch
                  is ignored when /Q is specified.
  /S:state        Specifies support for short filenames (enable, disable)
                  Short names are disabled by default
  /I:state        ReFS only: Specifies whether integrity should be enabled on
                  the new volume. "state" is either "enable" or "disable"
                  Integrity is enabled on storage that supports data redundancy
                  by default.
  /DAX[:state]    NTFS Only: Enable direct access storage (DAX) mode for this
                  volume.  In DAX mode, the volume is accessed via the memory
                  bus, boosting IO performance.  A volume can be formatted
                  with DAX mode only if the hardware is DAX capable.
                  State can specify "enable" or "disable".  /DAX is considered
                  as /DAX:enable.

As you can see, /FS:filesystem allows you to format as

FAT (fat16), FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, UDF and ReFS.

  • 1
    there's also a maximum size limit of fat32 files on newer versions of windows.
    – Journeyman Geek
    Feb 17, 2017 at 13:42
  • Yes, I found out the hard way when my format was completed. :( Used a tool instead, but already had posted the answer. I will accept your answer and leave mine as it is because that shows the picture clearly. Thanks for helping out in the community. :)
    – LPChip
    Feb 17, 2017 at 15:02
  • Nobody needs exFAT on Windows. Anything except NTFS is for portability. Microsoft is simply trying to pretend that exFAT is portable, when it would be a lot more useful to format in FAT32.
    – Zan Lynx
    Feb 17, 2017 at 20:31
  • I've documented the output by Win2K/XP's format as "Logical Disk Manager: Volume size too big." I'm guessing that carried onto Win10. Win9x would have no problem with this. It's not a limit to FAT32 in general, but specifically to this piece of software (the FORMAT command in some versions of Microsoft Windows). Using other software ought to work great, as you've now experienced.
    – TOOGAM
    Mar 5, 2017 at 19:03
  • 3
    Using format in command prompt with various parameters (including quick format) didn't work on Windows 10 - it always failed with an error "The volume is too big for FAT32. Format failed." I have even tried setting a higher allocation unit size as a parameter (32K and 64K) and it also didn't work, e.g.: "format MY_DRIVE_LETTER: /FS:FAT32 /A:32K /Q"
    – krm
    Jan 19, 2020 at 21:57

I just ran into this issue and found that the Disk Management tool built into Windows can handle this for partitions of 4GB or less.

Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools > Create and format hard disk partitions or search for Disk Management.

Right click on the volume and choose Shrink Volume..., then shrink it to 4GB or less. After that, both FAT32 and Quick Format options will be available in the Format... dialog.

  • 1
    Although FAT32 is limited to files with a max size of 4GB, it is not limited in partition size. So on a drive of 64GB, losing 60GB really is not an option.
    – LPChip
    Dec 31, 2018 at 11:42

Maybe that's unusual method of doing this, but as I long-running user of YUMI utility, I can say that it also can format to FAT32, though it is not its main function.

While loading any ISO image to the SD card, you can choose Fat32 Format

enter image description here

Works perfectly for big SD cards, I did this multiple times.

This tool is already archived so link may be dead soon.

  • Why are you posting the exact, same answer across multiple questions about Fat32 like this other one? Dec 25, 2023 at 23:35
  • So you're spamming then. Reported to the moderator team.
    – LPChip
    Dec 26, 2023 at 12:59
  • Please do not post the same answer to multiple questions. If the same information really answers both questions, then one question (usually the newer one) should be closed as a duplicate of the other. You can indicate this by voting to close it as a duplicate or, if you don't have enough reputation for that, raise a flag to indicate that it's a duplicate. Otherwise tailor your answer to this question and don't just paste the same answer in multiple places.
    – DavidPostill
    Dec 26, 2023 at 13:23

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