Disk For Mac

Disk
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Erasing your disk: For most reasons to erase, including when reformatting a disk or selling, giving away or trading in your Mac, you should erase your entire disk.

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Erasing a volume on your disk: In other cases, such as when your disk contains multiple volumes (or partitions) and you don't want to erase them all, you can erase specific volumes on the disk.

Erasing a disk or volume permanently deletes all of its files. Before continuing, make sure that you have a backup of any files that you want to keep.

How to erase your disk

  1. Start up from macOS Recovery. Then select Disk Utility from the Utilities window and click Continue.
    If you're not erasing the disk your Mac started up from, you don't need to start up from macOS Recovery. Just open Disk Utility from the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  2. Choose View > Show All Devices from the menu bar in Disk Utility. The sidebar now shows your disks (devices), and any containers and volumes within them. The disk your Mac started up from will be at the top of the list. In this example, Apple SSD is the startup disk:
  3. Select the disk that you want to erase. Can't see your disk?
  4. Click Erase, then complete these items:
    • Name: Type the name you want the disk to have after you have erased it.
    • Format: Choose APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journalled). Disk Utility shows a compatible format by default.
    • Scheme: Choose GUID Partition Map.
  5. Click Erase to start erasing your disk, and every container and volume within it. You may be asked to enter your Apple ID. Forgotten your Apple ID?
  6. When it's finished, quit Disk Utility.
  7. If you want your Mac to be able to start up from the disk you erased, reinstall macOS on the disk.

How to erase a volume on your disk

  1. Start up from macOS Recovery. Then select Disk Utility from the Utilities window and click Continue.
    If you're not erasing the volume your Mac started up from, you don't need to start up from macOS Recovery. Just open Disk Utility from the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  2. In the sidebar of Disk Utility, select the volume that you want to erase. The volume your Mac started up from will be called Macintosh HD, unless you have changed its name. Can't see your volume?
  3. Click Erase, then complete these items:
    • Name: Type the name you want the volume to have after you have erased it.
    • Format: Choose APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journalled). Disk Utility shows a compatible format by default.
  4. If you see an Erase Volume Group button, the volume you have selected is part of a volume group. In that case, you should erase the volume group. Otherwise, click Erase to erase just the selected volume. You may be asked to enter your Apple ID. Forgotten your Apple ID?
  5. When it's finished, quit Disk Utility.
  6. If you want your Mac to be able to start up from the volume you erased, reinstall macOS on that volume.

Reasons to erase

You can erase at any time, including in circumstances such as these:

  • You want to permanently erase all the content from your Mac and restore it to factory settings. This is one of the final steps before selling, giving away or trading in your Mac.
  • You’re changing the format of a disk, such as from a PC format (FAT, ExFAT or NTFS) to a Mac format (APFS or Mac OS Extended).
  • You’ve received a message that your disk isn’t readable by this computer.
  • You're trying to resolve a disk issue that Disk Utility can't repair.
  • The macOS installer doesn’t see your disk or can’t install on it. For example, the installer might say that your disk isn’t formatted correctly, isn’t using a GUID partition scheme, contains a newer version of the operating system or can’t be used to start up your computer.
  • The macOS installer says that you may not install to this volume because it is part of an Apple RAID.

About APFS and Mac OS Extended

Disk Utility in macOS High Sierra or later can erase using either the newer APFS (Apple File System) format or the older Mac OS Extended format, and it automatically chooses a compatible format for you.

How to choose between APFS and Mac OS Extended

Disk Utility tries to detect the type of storage and show the appropriate format in the Format menu. If it can’t, it chooses Mac OS Extended, which works with all versions of macOS. If you want to change the format, answer these questions:

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  • Are you formatting the disk that came built into your Mac?
    If the built-in disk came APFS-formatted, Disk Utility suggests APFS. Don't change it to Mac OS Extended.
  • Are you about to install macOS High Sierra or later for the first time on the disk?
    If you need to erase your disk before installing High Sierra or later for the first time on that disk, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled). During installation, the macOS installer decides whether to automatically convert to APFS — without erasing your files.
  • Are you preparing a Time Machine backup disk or bootable installer?
    Choose Mac OS Extended (Journalled) for any disk that you plan to use as a Time Machine backup disk or as a bootable installer.
  • Will you be using the disk with another Mac?
    If the other Mac isn't using macOS High Sierra or later, choose Mac OS Extended (Journalled). Earlier versions of macOS won't work with APFS-formatted volumes.

How to identify the format currently being used

If you want to know which format is currently in use, use any of these methods:

  • Select the volume in the Disk Utility sidebar, then check the information shown on the right. For more detail, choose File > Get Info from the Disk Utility menu bar.
  • Open System Information and select Storage in the sidebar. The File System column on the right shows the format of each volume.
  • Select the volume in the Finder, then choose File > Get Info from the menu bar. The Get Info window shows the Format of that volume.

If your disk or volume doesn't appear or the erase process fails

  1. Shut down your Mac, then unplug all non-essential devices from your Mac.
  2. If you're erasing an external drive, make sure it's connected directly to your Mac using a cable that you know is in good working order. Then turn the drive off and back on.
  3. If your disk or volume still doesn't appear in Disk Utility or Disk Utility reports that the erase process failed, your disk or Mac may need a service. If you need help, please contact Apple Support.

Learn more

  • If you can't start up from macOS Recovery, you can use a different startup disk instead.
  • If Disk Utility shows a Security Options button in the Erase window, you can click that button to choose between a faster (but less secure) erase and a slower (but more secure) erase. Some older versions of Disk Utility offer the option to zero all data instead. These secure-erase options aren't offered or needed for solid-state drives (SSDs) and flash storage.

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Reinstall from macOS Recovery

macOS Recovery makes it easy to reinstall the Mac operating system, even if you need to erase your startup disk first. All you need is a connection to the Internet. If a wireless network is available, you can choose it from the Wi-Fi menu , which is also available in macOS Recovery.

1. Start up from macOS Recovery

To start up from macOS Recovery, turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold one of the following sets of keys on your keyboard. Release the keys when you see an Apple logo, spinning globe, or other startup screen.

Command (⌘)-R

Reinstall the latest macOS that was installed on your Mac (recommended).

Disk For Mac

Option-⌘-R

Upgrade to the latest macOS that is compatible with your Mac.

Shift-Option-⌘-R

Reinstall the macOS that came with your Mac, or the closest version still available.

You might be prompted to enter a password, such as a firmware password or the password of a user who is an administrator of this Mac. Enter the requested password to continue.

When you see the utilities window, you have started up from macOS Recovery.

2. Decide whether to erase (format) your disk

You probably don't need to erase, unless you're selling, trading in, or giving away your Mac, or you have an issue that requires you to erase. If you need to erase before installing macOS, select Disk Utility from the Utilities window, then click Continue. Learn more about when and how to erase.

3. Install macOS

When you're ready to reinstall macOS, choose Reinstall macOS from the Utilities window. Then click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions. You will be asked to choose a disk on which to install.

  • If the installer asks to unlock your disk, enter the password you use to log in to your Mac.
  • If the installer doesn't see your disk, or it says that it can't install on your computer or volume, you might need to erase your disk first.
  • If the installer is for a different version of macOS than you expected, learn about macOS Recovery exceptions.
  • If the installer offers you the choice between installing on Macintosh HD or Macintosh HD - Data, choose Macintosh HD.

Please allow installation to complete without putting your Mac to sleep or closing its lid. During installation, your Mac might restart and show a progress bar several times, and the screen might be empty for minutes at a time.

If your Mac restarts to a setup assistant, but you're selling, trading in, or giving away your Mac, press Command-Q to quit the assistant without completing setup. Then click Shut Down. When the new owner starts up the Mac, they can use their own information to complete setup.

macOS Recovery exceptions

The version of macOS offered by macOS Recovery might vary in some cases:

  • If macOS Sierra 10.12.4 or later has never been installed on this Mac, Option-Command-R installs the macOS that came with your Mac, or the closest version still available. And Shift-Option-Command-R isn't available.
  • If you erased your entire disk instead of just the startup volume on that disk, macOS Recovery might offer only the macOS that came with your Mac, or the closest version still available. You can upgrade to a later version afterward.
  • If your Mac has the Apple T2 Security Chip and you never installed a macOS update, Option-Command-R installs the latest macOS that was installed on your Mac.
  • If you just had your Mac logic board replaced during a repair, macOS Recovery might offer only the latest macOS that is compatible with your Mac.

If you can't get macOS Recovery to offer the installer you want, you might be able to use one of the other ways to install macOS.

Other ways to install macOS

How To Erase A Disk For Mac

  • You can also install macOS from the App Store or Software Update preferences. If you can't install macOS Catalina, you might be able to install an earlier macOS, such as macOS Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, or Yosemite.
  • Or create a bootable installer disk, then use that disk to install macOS on your Mac or another Mac.