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How to format an APFS hard disk on macOS 11 (Big Sur) and later

How to format an APFS hard disk on macOS 11 (Big Sur) and later


It is important to keep the following in mind when formatting to APFS:

  * APFS is not officially supported for versions of macOS prior to 10.13 (High Sierra) and is not installed on versions of macOS 10.12 and earlier

  * APFS is only available when Schema is set to 'GUID Partition Map', APFS will not be displayed when Scheme is set to Master Boot Record – See Step 6

  * Starting with Big Sur, APFS is now the default for Time Machine

  * APFS cannot be used on Windows. If you need to switch between macOS and Windows, format your hard disk to ExFAT


Looking for more formatting options?

  * Click here to see more formatting options for your operating system


Warning: Reformatting the hard disk will erase all data on it, so you must copy the desired data from the hard disk before formatting.

 1. Open Disk Utility

    To open Disk Utility - Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility

 2. Click View on top left, then Show All Devices

 3. Select a non-indented entry, you will see Media from its name

 4. Click the button labeled Delete in the menu that will display this window.

NOTE: If you do not see the schematic, make sure all devices are displayed and non-indented entries are selected. Refer to step 2 to confirm Disk Utility Shows All Devices

 5. Named the volume

 6. Set Scheme to GUID Partition Map

 7. Set Format to APFS

NOTE: Make sure the Scheme is set to GUID Partition Map, not MBR (Master Boot Record). If APFS is not available, then the hard disk is in the MBR schema, not the GUID Partition Map. See the previous step

WARNING: Formatting the hard disk will erase all data on it, so you must copy all the data you want to save from the hard disk before formatting.

 8. Click Erase, Disk Utility will start formatting the hard disk

 9. When finished, click Done

10. The hard disk should now be APFS formatted, this can be confirmed by selecting the indent entry which will now display the APFS Volume under the name you provided


Need help?

  * Not sure which version you are using? Click here to determine your macOS version  

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