Format your external HDD for PS3 usage

I bought a playstation 3 this weekend (insert evil laugh) and got some trouble letting it play my files on my flash drive.

So, here’s the “how-to”.

The short version

1. Format your external hdd/flash drive to fat32
2. It needs to have a “Video”, “Photo”, “Music” and “Game” folder and all the files have to be in those folders.
3. It supports a range of formats, including divx, xvid, wma, mp3, jpeg, mpeg4, … (it will not play all .avi files !) You can add support for some file formats in one of it’s menu’s (wma needed to be added).

The long version

1. Install gparted (go to system -> administration -> synaptic package manager and search for it) (or use “sudo apt-get install gparted”)

2. Open up gparted (“system -> administration -> partition editor” or in a terminal “gksudo gparted”)

3. In the top right corner there should be a drop down menu, pick your external hdd/flash drive there. (look at the size of the drive).

4. Right-click the partition and select “unmount”.

5. The right-click it again and choose “format to”, then pick “fat32”.

6. Press the apply button.

7. If it’s finished, unplug the external hdd/flash drive and plug it back in.

8. Go to the disk (in ubuntu it should open up by itself) and add the following folders.

“Game”     “Music”     “Photo”       “Video”

9. Add the files in the correct folder, let it copy, right-click the drive and choose “unmount”.

10. Jack the drive into your ps3 and either browse to “photo” “video” or “music” menu’s and you’ll be able to play the files (if the file type is supported).


ps: there are also linux themes available for the ps3 (google “ps3 themes”)

    • chris4585
    • April 22nd, 2008

    Thanks, Nicely formed, I might need to do this for my friend, he has a PS3 but, he seems to be running out of space fairly fast.


  1. I already have you bookmarked and plan on checking back weekly for your updates. Thanks

    • mosh_monkey
    • July 17th, 2008

    Thanks man, works a treat, finally I can store my DVD’s for meh PS3 ^^

    • Korochko
    • November 20th, 2008

    Where are you supposed to place theme files??? it wont find them on my PS3 (80GB Version).

    • linuxowns
    • November 21st, 2008

    I don’t know, I haven’t tried this.

    I just use the ps3 browser to download them.

    • degs
    • December 26th, 2009

    It didn’t work. When I plug my hdd into the ps3 it says Unknown device. BTW it works fine in ubuntu and linux.

  2. I am sorry, that has interfered… I here recently. But this theme is very close to me. Is ready to help.

      • Durzo
      • January 6th, 2012

      Thanks a lot for this tutorial. It helped me a lot!!

    • jack
    • December 2nd, 2020

    This did not work for me unfortunately.

    I am not sure if gparted would have completed this properly had my usb stick NOT been using GPT but the partition id was incorrect (it was 7) after formatting in gparted to fat32 in any case.

    If you find yourself in this situation after following the instructions above, where the hdd is not seen by the ps3 no matter what you do, here is what you do (in my case it was lossless, and I did not need to recopy any files etc.)

    First, use gdisk to convert the gpt to mbr (there are many tutorials online, follow them explicitly!) then use fdisk to change the id on the partition that gparted created/converted from 7 to c (yes, the letter c).

    I am not sure if JUST changing the id might have worked, but the ps3 did not recognize the usb drive at all until I made these changes (GPT to MBR, and partition id from 7 to c)

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