iOS and iPadOS 18 can format external drives

I can’t believe this is considered something I need to write about, but it’s still a very welcome new feature that surprisingly has taken this long to become available: iOS and iPadOS 18 now allow you to format external storage devices.

Last year when I began testing iPadOS 17 betas, I noticed the addition of options for renaming and erasing external drives in the Files app. I watched these options over the course of the beta cycle for iPadOS 17 to see if any further changes would come. The one I watched most closely was the “Erase” option for external drives. This option uses the same glyph as the Erase option in Disc Utility on macOS. In Disc Utility on the Mac, in order to reformat an external drive, you first select the “Erase” option, and then additional options appear for selecting the new format you wish to reformat the drive with. When I saw the “Erase” option added in the Files app on iPadOS, I suspected that Apple might be moving towards adding these reformatting options into the Files app on iPadOS. And I’m excited to confirm that this is exactly what Apple has done in iPadOS 18!

↫ Kaleb Cadle

It was soon confirmed this feature is available in iOS 18 as well. You can only format in APFS, ExFAT and FAT, so it’s not exactly a cornucopia of file systems to choose from, but it’s better than nothing. This won’t magically fix all the issues a lot of people have with especially iPadOS when it comes to feeling constrained when using their expensive, powerful tablets with detachable keyboards, but it takes away at least one tiny reason to keep a real computer around.

Baby steps, I guess.