I just got a new (well refurbished) MacBook Pro running 10.8.3. I am a programmer, so I have need of a case-sensitive filesystem. It is fresh and I am reluctant to upgrade it or do much with it until I can change the partition to be case-sensitive.

To be sure, I ran "diskutil info disk0s2" on it. Under filesystem personality it says "Journaled HFS+". Which I understand to be the case-insensitive format.

I have done a little research and supposedly iPartition can do it, but I am reluctant to buy it because I think it can be done without spending money. Even if it is a more complicated method. And because I just got it, so I am not afraid to reinstall Mac OS X if need be. I would just need a way to do it without a disk.

So, what is the quickest and easiest way to make the partition case-sensitive?

  • I bet if you create a Time Machine backup or boot from the installer (and run Disk Utility), you can make a backup of the current system, then format your drive how you want it and load the backup image. BTW - I once installed Case-Sensitive HFS, because, as a developer joining a project, I thought I needed it.. Caused all my builds to break and produced headaches until I reformatted as case-insensitive. Dec 22, 2014 at 5:37
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    @Doc What kind of builds where you doing? I am a web developer. So I generally deal with Unix/Linux systems anyway. I have actually had headaches caused by using case-insensitive systems before (Windows and in one case a Mac).
    – Patrick
    Dec 22, 2014 at 5:57
  • By the way, you should make that an answer to this question so that I can vote it up and possibly use it as the choice answer if I go that route.
    – Patrick
    Dec 22, 2014 at 6:06
  • Why exactly do you need case sensitivity? Usually Unix ports were the main reason and these have mainly been converted to build OK
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 22, 2014 at 9:01
  • I am a web developer. I deal with case sensitive files quite often.
    – Patrick
    Dec 22, 2014 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


I've run in to this before and the only solution I'm aware of is to reformat your file system. Here's what I suggest you do:

  1. Boot off of your OSX install media and use Disk Utility to clone your OS image on to another drive.

  2. Reformat your main drive with the file system you want

  3. Restore the contents of your backed-up system to the main drive.

You could also go largely through Time Machine for this, but I'd recommend going straight at Disk Utility. TimeMachine refuses to restore from backups that have a different case-sensitivity setting.

Here's a random link to someone's article on cloning a drive with Disk Utility.

  • I will have to look up how to create an install disk from within the OS since it did not come with one.
    – Patrick
    Dec 22, 2014 at 21:01
  • pthurmond It's pretty easy if you google it for your version of OS X. Feb 3, 2016 at 0:33

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