How to use large USB memory sticks for music.

How to use large USB memory sticks for music.

Tesla only supports the FAT32 file system, but USB memory sticks larger than 32GB are formatted as either NTFS or exFAT. Neither of those will work with your Tesla, and the Windows format function will not format your USB drive larger than 32GB with the required FAT32 file system. Fortunately there is a utility called "FAT32 Format" by Ridgecrop Consultants Ltd. You can find it with a quick Google search. It formatted my 128GB USB stick with FAT32, and it works great in my car. | November 19, 2016

Good info. Here's a more indepth article on USB on the Tesla, how to avoid fake USB drives and formatting large USB drives. I use a 256 GB flash drive. Avoid slow large drives too, as it can take hours for Tesla to scan through the slow drive.

Silver2K | November 19, 2016

Someone is not doing research :)

EVRider | November 19, 2016

The Owner's Manual says both FAT32 and NTFS will work, but exFAT will not. My SanDisk Ultra Fit 64GB flash drive worked fine without any reformatting.

dleidy | November 19, 2016

The owner's manual is wrong, NTFS is not recognized. Even the Teslatap article link above also states that NTFS is not supported. And Windows 10 will NOT format drives larger than 32GB with FAT32. Thus I believe my original post is correct.

kevin | November 19, 2016

NTFS doesn't work. I just tried it.

Tâm | November 19, 2016


Thanks for catching that NTFS from the manual. It wasn't there before so I overlooked it with the new manual.

That's a good news indeed so I won't have to find a program to format fat32.

I wonder if NTFS is only for newer cars with a certain production date?

EVRider | November 20, 2016

@dleidy: I investigated this further, and it turns out that FAT32 is not limited to 32GB (that's a Windows specific limitation). As I mentioned in my previous post, I did not reformat my 64GB USB drive before using it in my 2016 Model S; according to the SanDisk web site, their 128GB and smaller compact flash drives are formatted using FAT32.

So it's still possible that NTFS drives don't work despite what the owner's manual says, but you can use FAT32 for drives larger than 32GB if you have the right formatting tools. | November 20, 2016

For those wondering why Windows has a 32 GB limitation, it's just a choice on the designer of the format program, not the file system. The FAT32 standard supports up to 8 TB drive sizes. As you get to these larger sizes, the FAT32 structure wastes some space, especially for small file sizes. With music files, often 10 MB or larger, this wasted space is minimal, and not of any concern.

Most (but not all) USB drives larger than 32 GB are pre-formatted as NTFS or exFAT32. These alternative formats are ones Tesla (and many other devices) do not understand. You can easily reformat these drives to FAT32 using various tools described in this thread or with step-by-step instructions at

Silver2K | November 20, 2016

I find it interesting that OS's till today are programmed without the ability to read NTFS. The format gas been around since 1995 and is used in over 90% of the OS's in the world. | November 20, 2016

@Silver - NTFS is wickedly complex compared with FAT32. There are lots of patents too which can make it a minefield to use. True that Windows, which has about 90% of the OS market uses NTFS, since Microsoft created NTFS. It's actually a good file format, just complex to get right.

Very few devices - dashcams, phones, music players, etc, support NTFS.

Silver2K | November 20, 2016

That's where Microsoft's biggest cash flow is these days, patents. They also do well with office leasing and ads

kevin | November 20, 2016

Ubuntu Linux supports the NTFS file system. I don't see why Tesla should not.

Silver2K | November 21, 2016

So does beOS! :)

As tutu mentioned, it's all about the licensing fees

Sailfast | December 3, 2016

I'm ordering a new S. We like to listen to books on CD on our road trips. Can I use a Mac to copy these to a stick so that we can play them on the base sound system?

murphyS90D | December 4, 2016

As long as the stick is formatted with the FAT32 format, yes.

hrhkee | December 9, 2016

I have a 3TB wireless drive with plex built in waiting for MA baby...finding a shop to install the audio system without hurting MA baby is the bigger challenge | December 10, 2016

@Sailfast - murphy is correct, but one annoyance is when playing the USB it will start over at the start of a track when exiting/returning to the car. Not a major issue for music, but not ideal for recorded podcasts or books. You can quickly move to any point within a track with a touch, but who remembers exactly where they were? We are hoping this is just a bug and will be fixed in a future release, as pre 8.0 software always starts where it last stopped.

Silver2K | December 10, 2016

you can use exFat as of 8.0 release. I tested it this morning and it works fine

Trigger | December 10, 2016

I listen to USB stick music a lot. My stick is 32 Gig and formatted FAT 32. My wife writes her favorites to the same stick on her Windows 7 machine in WMA format and I write mine on my iMAC using iTunes and AIFF encoding. Both play just fine in the car. Her files show up in albums but mine do not and therefore have to be put into folders at the time of writing to the stick. This is the only drawback I see so far and given the blinding speed of my iMac when burning CD's to iTunes it is not an expensive one. I own a Model S (mid-2016 production) Running 8.0 software.

pslawing | December 10, 2016

@Trigger could you please tell me how to do this on Mac ?
Format flasmdrive w Fat32 the just drag files out of iTunes to flash drive?

Haggy | December 10, 2016

Mine is a Sandisk which is hardly an off brand and it came formatted with FAT32. It's in their best interest to format in a way that will be compatible with as many devices as possible so they get fewer returns, and it's easy to reformat to something else if you don't want FAT32 so I don't see why a manufacturer wouldn't format it that way. Doing anything else would be as stupid as Windows not having the option when the whole point of a removable device is that it will be connected to something else and is most likely not going to be exclusive to to the Window PC. Is Microsoft stupid? Don't answer that. Jut buy a device that will work in the first place.

Silver2K | December 10, 2016

actually the fat 32 option is there if your device is already fat 32 :)

1089 | December 29, 2016

@Silver -- I finally got a version that came out after your statement that exFAT now works with 8.0, and tested it again, as I did on December 10. It still doesn't work on mine. Are you sure that you were able to read a flash drive formatted with exFAT? If so, are there multiple versions of exFAT?

1089 | December 30, 2016

Has anyone else been able to get an exFAT-formatted stick to work with the Model S?

carlk | December 30, 2016

I'm actually ordering another 128B Sandisk stick from Amazon for a freind who just took delevery of an X. I will try to see if it will work without me doing a FAT32 format.

1089 | January 2, 2017

@carlk -- Most 128GB sticks come formatted for FAT32 already. But if yours isn't, I'd appreciate finding out if it works for you with exFAT. Thanks!

carlk | January 2, 2017

Yes that's what I have just found out too. I was hoping it got exFAT so I could try it out. | January 2, 2017

A couple of others said exFAT worked, so I accepted it. I just took a working 128 GB flash drive in FAT32, and reformatted it as exFAT, added a few songs and - surprise - nothing. Doesn't detect it at all. So no exFAT support. Perhaps it worked for some early versions of 8.0, but not working on 2.50.180, a fairly current release and a new car as well (Dec-2016).

This is not a big deal, as FAT32 works fine, but I've found most drives above 32 GB come pre-formatted for exFAT. It is a bit more efficient with small file sizes. It provides very little benefit over FAT32 for music - as all the files are rather large.

222 | January 2, 2017

lots of previous threads addressing this issue as TeslaTap and Silver mentioned.

I listed my trials and errors also a while ago:

222 | January 2, 2017

ps. no major issues since V8 with my 1TB drive.
First thing in the morning my music is available.
If I take a short trip it re-indexes the music and it's sometimes not available for a little bit but it's not usually an issue.

mikeTeslagoal | October 10, 2018

On my MAC it only gives an option MS DOS (FAT) or ExFAT, os extended ? Any thoughts on what to do? I bought a 32 gb usb 2 san diisk usb (the tiny one mentioned on Tesla tap)?

burt.adam | March 26, 2019

I use Paragon Software. They have a free version for Windows ( This will support formatting any USB device with any format you require (even greater than 32GB as FAT32).

If anyone has any trouble, ping me and I'm happy to help out.

omega | March 26, 2019

Regardless of the format the bigger size the worse performance on Tesla. | March 26, 2019

@omega - Not what I've seen although I'm not sure what performance you mean. Speed of loading after a reboot or insertion of USB drive depends on the number of songs and the speed of the USB drive. Slow USB drives can take a long time, but that's not due to Tesla. The size of the drive has zero to do with performance. I load about 8,000 songs in about 3-4 minutes on MCU1. Same drive on MCU2 loaded about 40% faster. I'm using FLAC files (very large) on a 256 GB drive.

jeffshops1 | June 27, 2019

To I just bought a Model 3 and I've tried Scandisc and Lexar and am extremely disappointed. Both are 256gb one with just under 6000 "songs" and one with around 8000. Sometimes they load and sometimes they don't, but it always takes 10 - 30 minutes and even then I often receive "loading errors". I've tried using the same sticks but cutting the number of files in half and still have problems. By the time the files load, I am usually at my destination. This is a big deal to me, and, if I cannot listen to my music collection without splitting it up into several different pieces, has me considering returning the vehicle. Why couldn't they just put an aux adaptor in the damn sound system, like the Volt I just turned in? Minimalism gone amok. | June 27, 2019

@jeffshops1 - I thought loading problems were solved around version 2019.20 or so. Maybe not? The number of songs is not an issue. You can have at least 20,000 songs and I think a few have quite a bit more. More likely it's related to the song types. MP3 and FLAC have always worked best. Those that come from Apple have had a lot of loading error problems in the past.

The other possibility is the drive has gone bad and/or is a counterfeit drive (which cause all sorts of problems). You might test the drive. More on this here: and how to test them.

EVRider | June 27, 2019

@jeffshops1: I agree with TeslaTap that it’s probably an issue with your USB drive. I have about 6,000 songs from iTunes on two identical USBs, one for my Model S and the other for my wife’s Model 3, and I rarely get loading errors (I used to get them more frequently in my old Model S). It wasn’t long ago that both cars would reload the USB almost every time I got in the car, but that hardly ever happens now. When the USB did reload, it took 1-2 minutes at most.

Which version are you on, and are you using the same USB for the TeslaCam (dual partitions)?

dougk71 | June 28, 2019

Microsoft has the patents on FAT of all forms.So far Microsoft views its patents as defensive in that no one else beats them to the patent office and then asks for royalties from Microsoft for FAT. Now there is no guarantee that Microsoft won't at some future time ask for royalties and I would hope Tesla has purchased a license from Microsoft to foreclose that issue for owners.
I'm surprised about FatEx it had been a Microsoft only format.
Since with Dash CAM and Sentry mode both the Music player and video recording can be both active. Separate folders are needed at the root level of the drive as well as a fast video class USB card | June 28, 2019

@dougk71 - FAT and FAT32 has been around for well over 20 years (since DOS), well beyond any patents (they are limited to 17 years), so no concern there. exFAT was introduced in 2006 and is likely still under patent, one reason only Windows supports it.

Tesla also supports ext4, a Linux format that has no patents. Always an option to use it instead, but not compatible with Windows without special drivers.