I have installed snow leopard on a macbook ans selected case-sensitive file system when partitioning the disk, presuming that it's a standard thing and I'd rather have this system behaving as close as possible to *nix shell.

Although when trying to install Photoshop CS5 recently I got an error message saying that case-sensitive file system cannot be used for installation. Apparently reason is some issues in Apple installer system, which Adobe developers cannot find their way around.

So it looks like I will have to convert the case-sensitive FS to a case-insensitive one.

Are there any tools capable of doing that? Doesn't have to run under macos, anything will do, really (bootable CDs etc)


6 Answers 6


iPartition claims to be able to do this (for HFS+, not APFS), although I haven't tried it (and it costs money).

Update: Coriolis Systems has shut down, and made iPartition free (although donations are welcome); see the Museum section here for the software and license key. Personally, I applaud this; it's better for everyone when discontinued software is made free rather than unavailable.

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    Excellent, thanks! I was able to convert the file system to case-insensitive one with that tool. Had to make a bootable DVD (need to have the original MacOS installation DVD for that)
    – Art
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 10:59
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    This works for me. Converted a volume with 500Gb+ of data in around 10 minutes. It's worth noting that iPartition appears to stall at the point where it says "Unmounting..." but in fact it is working. Be patient. Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 15:38
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    Please note: iPartition3: If you have an SSD-based system and are running macOS 10.13, you will be using APFS, not HFS+; iPartition does not support APFS Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 10:11
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    iPartition is now free, the link above is still working, and offers a »Museum« with »Below you can find copies of Coriolis Systems' software, together with working license keys. Hopefully this will prevent the work we did at Coriolis from disappearing altogether.« It will officially run up to 10.13. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 19:09
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    @AlexanderRutz Thanks; I've updated my answer. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 19:52

I converted the default case-sensitive HFS+ partition to a case insensitive one after discovering the problem after installing a new MacBook. I assume here that you have enough disk space on your internal hard drive to duplicate the data and system files that you already have installed.

  1. Use Disk Utility to shrink the size of your existing boot partition to just big enough to contain the existing files.
  2. Create a new partition that is only Mac OS (Journaled) and is NOT case sensitive.
  3. Backup the original drive to the new partition. I used SuperDuper! but you can use rsync.
  4. Boot holding down the Command key and select the new partition.
  5. Delete the old partition with Disk Utility and increase the size of the new one.
  • I had to use the "Smart Update" option, which is a paid feature. Steps I took: 1) use Disk Utility to shrink main partition and create new partition (2) backup all files to new partition with SuperDuper (3) reboot into the new partition (4) erase the main partition and format as HFS+ Journaled (case insensitive) (5) backup all files to the reformated main partition using "Smart Update" in SuperDuper so that it would not reformat the drive as case-sensitive (6) boot into main drive (7) use Disk Utility to delete the partition I created earlier, and grow the main partition back to fill the drive Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 19:10
  • I didn't try Carbon Copy Cloner, but if it can do what SuperDuper does with the "Smart Update" option, it may be a better option since it's free. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 19:12
  • Warning: SuperDuper default free mode will silently reconvert your destination disk to case sensitive, so it is not working for this flow. Maybe it tries to be 'safe' or 'helpful', but for this specific case it is just plain annoying. I wasted a lot of time before discovering it. Maybe "Smart Update" is better, but I was too annoyed from the software to pay for it now.
    – JaakL
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 14:29

I don't believe its possible to convert your file system once this is selected. The reason you can't convert is because of the possibility of file name duplicates. All you can do is clone the drive to an external HFS+ that isn't case sensitive and then format your internal drive. And clone it back to the internal.

I would recommend using Carbon Copy Cloner for its ease of use and the fact its free.


There is a FUSE solution called ciopfs (case insensitive on purpose file system).

I quote:

ciopfs is a stackable or overlay linux userspace file system (implemented with fuse) which mounts a normal directory on a regular file system in case insensitive fashion.

This may be what you're looking for.

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    Isn't this a kind of sandbox for dirty software to be able to run on a case sensitive filesystem?
    – dan
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 23:03
  • @danielAzuelos define "dirty software"... Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 8:51

It is possible to migrate a case sensitive file system onto a case insensitive file system if you don't have name like:


in which case these 2 files should be copied with the same name thus causing an overwriting. Any decent program to propose this file system migration should warn you about this name collision.

If Adobe Photoshop refuses to install on a case sensitive file system this is coming from an internal protection to avoid crashes. The truth is that Adobe Photoshop was never written to take care of the case of internal file names. This is the reason why Adobe Photoshop will never run on Linux, OpenBSD, FreeBSD or any other Unix.

Adobe never considered quality of software and security as serious business objectives. Their recent scandal with customers accounts is the due reward of such a bad care.

This is a shame. But… you have the freedom to pay to support them in this way.

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    “Adobe never considered quality of software and security as serious business objectives.“ Oh man, I couldn't agree more to your statement. Adobe is the new Microsoft. Unfortunately they acted clever in acquiring all major competitors in their realm and I don't see that I have a choice but paying them for their bull...t.
    – Jpsy
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 12:58
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    I worked at Adobe as part of the Photoshop team and I was the one that discovered this bug but it was not considered a priority. I guess that instead of fixing the few filenames that were not using consistent case they decided to implement a "fix" by preventing installation on case sensitive partitions. I guess they will have to fix the bug after Apple will finally switch to their new file system APFS which is case sensitive.
    – sorin
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 11:57

Update on iPartition. Over the weekend I used v. 3.6.2 to convert the 1 TB internal flash drive on a MacBook Pro running Sierra (10.12.6) from case-sensitive to case-insensitive. As noted above, you have to make a separate bootable disk with iPartition on it. Since recent macOS installs require so much room, Coriolis Systems deleted the option for generating a DVD for boot several versions back. I used an external clone of my system drive.

Since you are booting off a new disk, you have to re-activate iPartition after rebooting, so make sure to copy the license image (a png with a QR code on it) over to the external bootable drive as well as the app.

Once booted on the external drive, it was simple to select the filesystem for conversion, uncheck the box for "Case Sensitive", and click Go. After maybe 15 minutes, it was done. Rebooting off the internal drive worked fine, as did all of the apps I tried for a quick test.

A few caveats: iPartition does not currently support the new AFS, so it will NOT run on High Sierra (10.13). It does not support CoreStorage, so if your drive in encrypted by FileVault 2, you have to turn off FileVault and wait until the decryption process runs to completion before you start. If you have a Fusion drive, you're out of luck. Also, it warns you that if you have any files in a directory with names differing only by case, it will rename one of them as part of the conversion.

All in all, it was a fairly easy process, and well worth the price of the software.

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