I have macOS High Sierra installed on my MacBook Pro already with the APFS format.

However, I would like to know the steps involved to perform a clean installation of macOS High Sierra with the APFS format?


To be clear, if boot from a usb high Sierra installer, and format your disk with the new apfs format, you cannot install high Sierra, you get an error that’s it not a os extended disk. To make matters worse, you no longer have the option to format the disk and anything but apfs in disk utility.

The work around is to do a disk partition in disk utility and make that partion an OSX Extended Partion. This will erase the disk and give you back the option to erase as a Mac OS extended drive in disc utility.

  • Welcome to Ask Different. You’ve posted this as an answer, which is only for things that directly answer the question asked. If you have a different question, feel free to ask it using the Ask Question button at the top right. To avoid down votes, be sure to directly answer the question first and then perhaps explain how things are bad. The clean install with APFS sure seems like the OP wants APFS after the install. Perhaps asking how to get away from APFS in a follow on question would be best?
    – bmike
    Jul 26 '18 at 22:12
  • 1
    This clearly DOES answer the question "how to clean install High Sierra with APFS?"
    – WGroleau
    Aug 7 '18 at 4:31
  • 1
    You saved my day!
    – wlnirvana
    Jan 3 '20 at 0:22

This can be done by downloading the High Sierra installer from the App store and use it to create an installation USB media.

  1. Locate and install macOS High Sierra in the Mac App Store.
  2. Plug an empty USB flash drive into your Mac with at least 12 GB of space.
  3. Run the following command in the terminal:

    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume

    Where MyVolume is the name of your USB flash drive.

  4. Leave the USB drive plugged in and reboot your Mac while holding the option key (ALT) down.

  5. Choose the installer from the boot menu.
  6. From the installation environment, choose to install High Sierra on your internal disc. The installation should default to APFS.

A more detailed explanation can be found on the Apple support page: How to create a bootable installer for macOS

  • 1
    I just created a High Sierra installer drive and am apparently unable to reformat as anything other than APFS* in Disk Utility and yet the installer will not allow me to proceed because "This volume is not formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled).". Classic Apple usability. Tempted to chuck this laptop in the trash... reformatting and selling it is the last step of my nearly complete conversion to Arch Linux! Jun 10 '18 at 3:59
  • + Charlie Gorichanaz "Classic Apple usability. Tempted to chuck this laptop in the trash... reformatting and selling it is the last step of my nearly complete conversion to Arch Linux" Yeah, that will offer so much more usability /s
    – Hejazzman
    Jun 24 '18 at 12:48
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    @CharlieGorichanaz I know this is late, but in case anyone having the same issue comes, see the answer below apple.stackexchange.com/a/332120/197175
    – wlnirvana
    Jan 3 '20 at 0:23

Just perform a routine erase install and you are set with apfs on SSD only.

There’s no difference in the result whether you use internet recovery, bootable media or a bootable Mac drive with recovery.

  • 1
    Yes there is a difference. Using Internet recovery will install the latest version of macOS. Using bootable media or a drive will use exactly the version on that drive. This is a very important difference if there is a relavant bug in the version on the bootable media. As is the case for me.
    – Jason
    Apr 19 '20 at 14:56

To Erase everything on your Mac, and setting up as a new one,

hold down (Command + R) immediately after pressing power button when starting up.

This will take you to Recovery mode and will take some time than usual which is normal.

From there you can erase the partition to APFS and install the latest version of macOS.


Had the same problem on old Macbook Air 2011. Erased the MacOS Extended (Journaled) formatted SSD, formatted it in APFS as I thought it was logic to use the format that High Sierra would generate automatically when installing, then same problem: High Sierra on the USB-Drive would not want to install on a APFS formatted drive in Recovery Mode. Changing format would not work, as APFS stays the only option. Then tried Internet Recovery (CMD+R). After half an hour of a rotating Earth, the same Recovery screen appeared, with "Install OSX LION" instead of MacOS. I then went into Disc Utility where finally I could format in Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Install from High-Sierra USB drive working like a charm afterwards. Good luck!

  • This is confusing. But I think all it need is better formatting of the text.
    – WGroleau
    Aug 6 '18 at 1:28

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