How to format Mac drive or partition with APFS file system

Apple introduced APFS (Apple File System) on macOS 10.12.4 Sierra and fully implemented it as the default file system on macOS 10.13 High Sierra. Compared to older HFS + (or Mac OS Extended) file systems, APFS offers significant advantages, especially for solid state drives.

For example, APFS manages storage efficiently with very fast copy / write speeds, making it less susceptible to data corruption. For more information, see APFS and MacOS Extended details.

If you want to format or convert a drive or partition with APFS file system, the following steps will help you.

Before starting the conversion

If you purchased a Mac with macOS 10.13 High Sierra or later pre-installed, the internal storage uses the APFS file system by default. When you upgrade from macOS 10.12 Sierra to a newer version, the conversion will happen automatically.

However, if you still have a drive or partition (internal or external) in HFS + or another format (such as exFAT), you can convert it to APFS using the Disk Utility app on macOS.

APFS is intended for solid state drives, but it can convert or format both fusion hard drives and mechanical hard drives without any problems. However, if you use an external drive on an older Mac running macOS 10.11 Capitan or earlier, converting or formatting the drive will make it unreadable.

Disk Utility supports the following APFS format options:

  • APFS
  • APFS (encryption)
  • APFS (case sensitive)
  • APFS (case sensitive, encrypted)

When erasing a drive or partition APFS Should be enough. Unless you prefer an encrypted file system or a case-sensitive file system, don’t be overly obsessed with other options. Depending on your existing file system and partition scheme, you may be able to convert your drive or partition to APFS without losing its format.

important: Time Machine supports APFS to launch macOS Big Sur. However, if you’re using an older Time Machine drive in HFS + format, you can’t convert to APFS. Without losing data.. Unless you’re setting up a new Time Machine drive, we recommend using your old file system.

Convert drives and partitions to APFS (non-destructive)

You can use GUID partition map to convert HFS + drive or partition non-destructively (except old Time Machine drive). This allows you to retain existing data.

1. Open launch pad Select other >> >> Disk utility Open Disk Utility.

Search Bar Disk Utility

2. Set Disk Utility’s sidebar to Show all devices..

Show all devices

3. Control-click the partition in the drive Convert to APFS option.

Convert to APFS

4. Select conversion..

Convert button

5. Wait for Disk Utility to complete the partition conversion.Then select end..

Done button

The partition will appear as a volume in the APFS container. You can add multiple volumes to a container (more on this below).

The partition will appear as a volume in the container

If the drive contains additional partitions to convert, repeat the steps 3– –Five..

Format partition or drive to APFS (destructive)

You can also convert (or format) a partition or drive by erasing all the data on the partition or drive. This is the only way to convert partitions and drives without HFS + or with another partition scheme other than GUID partition map.

1. Set Disk Utility’s sidebar as follows: Show all devices Select the partition or drive to format.

Show all devices

2. Select the labeled button erase..

Erase button

3. Specify a new name for the partition APFS.. If you choose to format the entire drive, you must choose a partition scheme.Set to GUID partition map..Then select erase..

New name and format of partition and erase button

4. Wait for Disk Utility to complete formatting the partition or drive.Then select end..

Done button

The partition will appear inside the new APFS container.Repeat the steps if you want to format other partitions 2– –Five..

The partition will appear inside the new APFS container

If you formatted the entire drive, you’ll see a single partition inside the APFS container.

Create a new volume in the APFS container

After converting or formatting a partition or drive to APFS, you can easily create a new volume inside the APFS container. These volumes can dynamically utilize free space without limiting to a predefined size, which is one of the key benefits of formatting.

1. Configure Disk Utility’s sidebar as follows: Show all devices Select an APFS container.

Selected APFS container
Partition button

3. Select plus icon.

Plus icon

4. Select Add volume..


5. Select Size option..Skip to step 7 If you don’t want to define the size of the volume.

Size option button

6. Specify Quota size (Volume size) and Reserve size (Amount of additional space the volume can access) and select all right..

Quarter size and reserve size

7. Add a label for the volume. Then specify the format (APFS), addition..

With a new volume label[追加]button

8. Wait for Disk Utility to complete creating the volume.Then select end..

Done button

The volume is displayed under the APFS container. You can create additional volumes at any time.

New volume under APFS container

If you want to add a new APFS container Add partition In steps Four.. You can do this by splitting the drive or existing container.

Format with APFS while creating a new partition

If you have a drive in a different format (such as HFS + or exFAT), you can create a new APFS container by partitioning the disk. If you do not have enough free disk space, you will lose data.

1. Select a drive in the Disk Utility sidebar.

Drive selected in the sidebar

2. Select partition button.

Partition button

3. Select plus button.

Plus button

4. Use the disk graph to specify the size of the APFS container.Or enter its size in the field next to it size..

Disc graph

5. Add a name for the partition and select APFS As a format.Then select application..

Partition information and apply button

6. Select partition..

Partition selected

7. Wait for Disk Utility to complete creating the APFS partition.Then select end.. The APFS partition will appear as a container (with a volume inside).

APFS partition appears as a container

You can continue to add new volumes to your APFS container (see section above). Alternatively, you can split the drive or split an existing APFS container to create a new container.

APFS formatted drives and partitions

Whether it’s SSD or mechanical hard drive, the net advantage of converting or formatting partitions and drives with APFS is important. However, due to compatibility issues, do not format external storage devices with APFS when using it on older Macs.

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