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Making sense of Disk Utility and disk structure in macOS 10.13-10.15 Until Apple introduced APFS, the normal structure of our Mac’s disks and volumes was relatively simple. What we saw in the Finder and in Disk Utility was reasonably close to what we needed to use, and wasn’t too far from what you’d find using the diskutil command in. Then, click 'Disk Utility' to repair or erase a disk. In Disk Utility, select your Mac's hard drive from the sidebar. Select First Aid to checks the file system for errors. Reboot your Mac when it finishes and you can go on to free up space on your Mac. If you have a recent backup of your Mac or don't mind losing data.

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Disk Utility User Guide

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.

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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 (partition) on demand. When a single APFS container has multiple volumes, the container’s free space is shared and is automatically allocated to any of the individual volumes 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.

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Choose one of the following APFS formats for Mac computers using macOS 10.13 or later.

  • APFS: Uses the APFS format. Choose this option if you don’t need an encrypted or case-sensitive 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. Choose this option if you don’t need an encrypted or case-sensitive format.

  • 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.

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Windows-compatible formats

Choose one of the following Windows-compatible file system formats if you are formatting a disk to use with Windows.

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Best Disk Utility Software For Mac

See alsoPartition schemes available in Disk Utility on MacAbout Disk Utility on Mac