Disk Utility User Guide
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Disk Utility on Mac supports several file system formats:
Apple File System (APFS): The file system used by macOS 10.13 or later.
Mac OS Extended: The file system used by macOS 10.12 or earlier.
MS-DOS (FAT) and ExFAT: File systems that are compatible with Windows.
Apple File System (APFS)
Apple File System (APFS), the default file system for Mac computers using macOS 10.13 or later, features strong encryption, space sharing, snapshots, fast directory sizing, and improved file system fundamentals. While APFS is optimized for the Flash/SSD storage used in recent Mac computers, it can also be used with older systems with traditional hard disk drives (HDD) and external, direct-attached storage. macOS 10.13 or later supports APFS for both bootable and data volumes.
APFS allocates disk space within a container on demand. The disk’s free space is shared and can be allocated to any of the individual volumes in the container as needed. If desired, you can specify reserve and quota sizes for each volume. Each volume uses only part of the overall container, so the available space is the total size of the container, minus the size of all the volumes in the container.
Choose one of the following APFS formats for Mac computers using macOS 10.13 or later.
APFS: Uses the APFS format.
APFS (Encrypted): Uses the APFS format and encrypts the volume.
APFS (Case-sensitive): Uses the APFS format and is case-sensitive to file and folder names. For example, folders named “Homework” and “HOMEWORK” are two different folders.
APFS (Case-sensitive, Encrypted): Uses the APFS format, is case-sensitive to file and folder names, and encrypts the volume. For example, folders named “Homework” and “HOMEWORK” are two different folders.
You can easily add or delete volumes in APFS containers. Each volume within an APFS container can have its own APFS format—APFS, APFS (Encrypted), APFS (Case-sensitive), or APFS (Case-sensitive, Encrypted).
Mac OS Extended
Choose one of the following Mac OS Extended file system formats for compatibility with Mac computers using macOS 10.12 or earlier.
Mac OS Extended (Journaled): Uses the Mac format (Journaled HFS Plus) to protect the integrity of the hierarchical file system.
Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted): Uses the Mac format, requires a password, and encrypts the partition.
Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled): Uses the Mac format and is case-sensitive to folder names. For example, folders named “Homework” and “HOMEWORK” are two different folders.
Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled, Encrypted): Uses the Mac format, is case-sensitive to folder names, requires a password, and encrypts the partition.
Choose one of the following Windows-compatible file system formats if you are formatting a disk to use with Windows.
MS-DOS (FAT): Use for Windows volumes that are 32 GB or less.
ExFAT: Use for Windows volumes that are over 32 GB.
When you attach a storage disk to a Mac with the purpose of erasing or repartitioning it, you'll be presented with the option of selecting one of the three available partition maps: GUID Partition Map, Master Boot Record, and Apple Partition Map. In this article we will explain what a partition scheme is and which one to pick when formatting a drive.
What Is a Partition?
The fixed-sized subset of a disk drive treated as an individual unit by the operating system (in our case macOS) is defined as a partition. On every drive there are multiple partitions, and for this you will need a partition table or partition map – maintained by the operating system – to detail the status of the partitions.
Mac Os File System Type
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GUID Partition Map
This is a standard for the layout of the partition table on a storage disk using globally unique identifiers (GUIDs). As part of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) standard, GUID is a bootable standard for systems with EFI firmware such as macOS. Non-Intel Macs won't support this bootable standard, hence the only option available to them is the Apple Partition Map (APM).
Apple Partition Map
Used on disks formatted for use with 68k and PowerPC Macs, the Apple Partition Map is the scheme that defines how the data is organized. Starting with OS X Tiger, both APM and GUID partitions can be used for accessing volumes, but PowerPC-based Macs can only boot from APM disks. While Intel-based Macs generally boot from a GUID Partition Table, they are all able to start the operating system from APM and Master Boot Record (MBR) using the BIOS-Emulation called EFI-CSM.
Master Boot Record
Introduced by IBM in 1983 to support the 10MB hard disk, the Master Boot Record is a type of boot sector developed for use with IBM PC systems. It is currently used for Windows partitions formatted as MS-DOS (FAT) or ExFAT.
Mac System File Large
Choosing a Partition Map
Now you know which partitioning map is which, the next time you insert an external drive or want to partition the built-in storage disk of the Mac, it will be easier to choose between the available options.
When formatting or erasing a volume with Disk Utility, you'll see a format menu prompt asking you to choose from:
- Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
- Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted)
- Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)
- Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled, Encrypted)
- MS-DOS (FAT)
- APFS (macOS High Sierra’s new file system)
- APFS (Encrypted)
- APFS (Case-sensitive)
- APFS (Case-sensitive, Encrypted).
Mac File System Format
Be aware that APFS is compatible only with macOS High Sierra and higher, so earlier versions of OS X or macOS won't mount an APFS volume. If you want maximum reach, Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is the right choice.
Below the file system format, the Disk Utility dialog box will list another contextual menu, the partition map scheme, which gives you another great tool to create targeted volumes. If you are looking to format a disk that will be shared with Windows users, the MBR scheme and MS-DOS (FAT) are the best choices. For drives used with Intel-based Macs only, the GUID Partition Map should the option to go for.
If you don't see the partition map scheme option, it is likely because Disk Utility doesn't list all volumes. This will prohibit Disk Utility from erasing the disk and show you an error message. To address this issue, you should click on the View button located in the top-left side of the Disk Utility dialog box and select “Show All Volumes”. From that point on, Disk Utility will ask for your partition map preference, and the formatting process will be smoother.
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