Is there a quick way to find the volume on which is located the current running OS ? I've noticed that the sort order of the volumes list can be changed manually, so the current system volume is not always on the top of the list.

PS : And, in my case, of course, there are several volumes with a System Folder.

  • What list are you generating? Finder sidebar list, AppleScript, shell script or something else? – bmike Sep 8 '11 at 17:01

If in terminal, one could type open / which opens a Finder window for the root (similar to what @andersmoldin described).

You could also drag the volume's icon to the Finder's sidebar for quick access later on.

Or you could drag it to the Dock.

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How about - in the Finder - hit Cmd + shift + G and then type /, does that work for you?

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  • Cmd + G doesn't seems to be active in my Menus... (English OS X 10.6.8) – Pierre Watelet Sep 8 '11 at 9:42
  • Sorry. Meant Cmd + Shift + G. – molle Sep 8 '11 at 9:56
  • No it opens a window, but the one with all the disks, network and mounted disk images... – Pierre Watelet Sep 8 '11 at 11:51

The terminal command "system_profiler SPSoftwareDataType" should show the name of the volume you booted from. If you have multiple system folders on a volume, then "bless -info" should show you the current blessed system folder.

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The trick I use is to right-click on a drive. If 'eject' is an option, that's not the active/booted/blessed drive.

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If by find, you mean visually see in Finder, then I use the following key commands to get a fast answer.

  • Command+Tab - Switch to Finder
  • Command+Shift+A - Open Applications
  • Select the Path Icon to see the Parent Volume Name

enter image description here

This icon isn't in the default finder toolbar, but so useful you may put it in just for this use. Just control-click in the bar to customize yours if you lack the path control.

Many of the other destinations in the Finder Go menu key off the user home folder which can be on another volume than the running system. /Applications is by default the folder at the same level as /System and is a reliable proxy for finding /System in most cases.

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  • Can we really trust that the Applications folder is on the startup volume ? As I said, it's not to have the info about my computer, but on someone else computer. Is this possible to move your Applications folder on another disk ? – Pierre Watelet Sep 8 '11 at 14:52
  • I suppose you could use an alias to replace /Applications so if you need to detect something rare like that, you'll test whether /Applications is on the same filesystem as /System. Not exactly a quick operation unless you script it. – bmike Sep 8 '11 at 16:54
  • Moot point now on Catalina and APFS firmlinks and multiple volumes that make up the default system. @PierreWatelet - I figured we’d be here sooner, but here we are at last. :) – bmike Aug 25 '19 at 17:20

For each startup volume, use a graphics program to create a custom desktop screen background graphic with the name of the startup volume displayed in text. Assign this custom graphic as the screen background using System Preferences. Then, no matter which volume you have booted from, you can just glance at the desktop and read the name of your startup volume.

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  • This is a nice one, but my goal is to be able to find this information when I arrive at someone office to fix his computer problems. – Pierre Watelet Sep 8 '11 at 14:49

To do it manually will probably require 3 or more steps, the first of which is launching an app (Disk Utility, Terminal, or ?).

I just looked at Automator in the Applications folder, and it offers some possibilities to make that process shorter. An Applescript saved as an App might do the trick as well. I know very little about either, but someone here might help.

An Applescript would likely contain something like the following:

open Terminal.app

Run shell script "xxx"

That would give you the info in an open Terminal window. You could map that to an F key or put it in the Dock, giving you 1 step to get the info you want.

I don't know enough about any of these to give advice beyond what I have.

This might help:


Since you didn't say you wanted to get this info on a "random" Mac, I did not consider that.

Open Disk Utility and cycling thru the volumes to find the one that will not allow you to "Repair Disk". That will be the current boot drive. This method will also give you the hierarchy, which drives contain which partitions, and how many there are.

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