How to partition Mac hard drive

How to partition Mac hard drive

Things you need to know:

  • To create a hard disk partition on Mac, open Disk Utility → select the Volume → click Partition → → Add Partition → name the partition → Apply → Done.
  • To switch a partition, press and hold the Option button while your Mac starts up → select the partition you want to switch.

As a quote from the Bible goes, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor,” it’s always better to have something more than one (other than the problems in life). The same goes for the benefits if you partition your Mac hard drive.

If you don’t know how to do it, I got you covered with the guide below. Here, I have mentioned all the steps you need to follow and how you can entirely erase or delete these partitions. But first things first!

Why should you partition a Mac hard drive?

There are many reasons why you should partition your Mac hard drive. The primary among them is the ability to run a stable version of macOS and a macOS beta version or even Windows on the same Mac.

You can also create a backup of the data on the other partition and thus, prevent worrying about losing the data. Now that we know the use cases for creating the partitions, it’s time to learn how to do it.

Create a hard disk partition in macOS

Before you begin the process, it is best to take a backup of your Mac if things don’t go well, leading to data loss. Now since that’s sorted, let’s look at the steps:

  1. Open Disk Utility.
    Either open from Spotlight or Launchpad.
  2. Select the volume in which you want to create a partition from the sidebar.
  3. Now, click the partition button from the toolbar on the top.

    select the hard drive and click partition on disk utility on Mac
  4. Click the plus button (+) at the bottom of the pie chart.

    Click the plus button (+) at the bottom of the pie chart
  5. Then, select Add partition on the pop-up.

    select add partition
  6. Next, you can customize the size of the new drive.
    The unshaded part of the chart shows the free space available.
  7. Add details such as name and format.
  8. Once done, click Apply.

    customise the partition and click Apply
  9. Click Partition to confirm.

    confirm again by clicking partition
  10. Wait until the process is completed and click Done.

    wait until the process is completed and after that click Done

Sometimes if it takes a long time, macOS may give the option to continue installation or to wait until it’s completed.

How to switch between partitions

  1. Click the Apple logoSystem Preferences.
  2. Select Startup Disk.

    Open System Preference and select startup disk
  3. Click the lock button and enter your TouchID or password.

    Click the lock button on startup disk
  4. Now, select the particular partition you want to boot.
  5. Restart your system.

Your Mac will open to the new disk that was selected. Other than that, you can also select the disk when your Mac is booting up. Simply press and hold the Option key and select the partition from the Startup Manager screen.

Delete Mac partition 

As one can guess, when you create a partition, it divides the storage inside your Mac, reducing the storage for a particular partition. Chances are that you might have accidentally allocated extra memory to a partition, which will also affect your Mac. To resolve this, delete that partition. Here’s how:

  1. Open Disk Utility.
    Either open from Spotlight or Launchpad.
  2. Select the volume from which you want to create the partition from the sidebar.
    You can click View → select Show All Devices if you don’t see the partition to delete.
  3. Now, click the partition button from the toolbar at the top.

    select partition from disk utility on macoS
  4. Select the partition you want to delete from the pie chart.
  5. Click the delete button (-).

    select the storage and then click the delete button
    If the delete button appears dim, you can’t delete that partition.
  6. Next, click Apply.

    click apply to delete partition on macOS
  7. Click Partition to confirm again.

    click partition to delete a storage
  8. Wait until the operation finishes, and click Done.

    confirm by clicking done

As you can guess, deleting the partition will also erase all the data stored in it. So, be sure to take a backup.

Erase a partition 

If you don’t want to delete a partition but only want to erase the contents in it, you have to:

  1. Open Disk Utility.
    Either open from Spotlight or Launchpad.
  2. Choose View → select Show All Devices.

    open view and show all devices
  3. Now, select the partition you want to erase.
  4. Click Erase from the toolbar on top.

    select the partition and click erase
  5. Name the partition → select the format → click Erase.

    name and select the format and click erase
  6. Wait until the formatting is finished, and then click Done.

Create a new volume on Mac

Since you are dividing the disk storage into individual sections, it can’t be dynamically changed later. Hence it is best to create APFS volumes instead of dividing your Mac storage for creating partitions. And yes, you can even install another macOS version on an APFS volume.

Even if you create multiple APFS storages, the space will be allocated dynamically between them, thus making sure you won’t lose any space. Now that we have seen the benefits of creating an APFS storage, let’s look at the steps for it:

  1. Open Disk Utility → select the volume from the sidebar.
  2. Click the Plus button (+) from the toolbar on top.

    select the hard disk and click plus button
  3. Enter the name for the new APFS volume.
  4. Choose an APFS format according to your needs.
  5. Optional: Select Size options and choose any of the below:
    • Reserve Size: Make sure the storage of the volume won’t be allocated for other volumes.
    • Quota Size: This will limit how much storage can be allocated to the volume.
  6. Now, click Add.

    add necessary changes and click add
  7. Wait until the process is finished, and click Done.


Q. What is a volume vs. a partition?

In Partition, you directly divide the storage, and the memory won’t be allocated according to the other partition’s use. Whereas in Volume, they act like separate partitions without dividing the storage. The memory will also be allocated accordingly.

Q. What is the best partition format for Mac? 

While the partition format differs according to your needs, usually APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) are the best partition format.

Q. What is the default partition scheme for macOS? 

APFS is the default partition scheme for macOS. There are many other partition schemes to choose from according to your needs.

That’s it!

If you love to play around with macOS Beta versions or experiment on macOS, it is always best to carry it out on partitioned storage, especially if it is your primary device. I hope that this guide helped you understand how you can partition your macOS hard drive, and if you have any doubts, let me know.

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Anoop loves to find solutions for all your doubts on Tech. When he's not on his quest, you can find him on Twitter talking about what's in his mind.

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