I have a really old Mac that I just pulled out. It appears to be running OS X Mavericks and I would like to update it. I first need to convert it from Mac OS Extended (Journaled) to APFS. Does anyone know how to do this on OS X Mavericks? Everyone else has solutions for this for macOS versions, but not on this old OS X version.

MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.3 15" Retina 2012

  • 1
    If you tell us precisely what Mac it is, then we can advise on what OS you can update to. High Sierra is minimum OS to be able to read/write APFS.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 15:31
  • Does it have an HDD or an SSD? An SSD will give you much better performance.
    – lhf
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 17:49
  • 3
    You don't need to convert to APFS before upgrading it - it will convert it when it upgrades.
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 18:01

2 Answers 2


Upgrading to High Sierra or newer will automatically cause conversation to APFS when installing to a SSD. My understanding is you probably want to upgrade to High Sierra before upgrading further. This generally though to be because High Sierra installs the firmware upgrade to allow booting from APFS.

Possible steps to upgrade.

  1. Using another newer computer, download El Capitan from the Apple website How to download macOS. Transfer the file to your Mac. Use this file to create the Install OS X El Capitan application.
  2. Either run the Install OS X El Capitan application to upgrade to El Capitan, or create a bootable USB installer and use that to install El Capitan.
  3. Boot to El Capitan and install all the updates. This will give you access to the Apps Store.
  4. From your Mac, go to the Apple website How to download macOS and follow the instructions to download other installer applications. I would recommend installing High Sierra first before Catalina. Note: Some installer applications may not be full installers. This means you can run the application to upgrade, but you may not be able to create a bootable USB installer.

How to Download El Capitan from Mavericks

If you do not have another computer to download El Capitan, then you may need to download using Mavericks. Steps are below.

  1. Open a new document in the TextEdit and enter the following URL. This URL came from the El Capitan link given in the Apple website How to download macOS.


  2. Copy and paste the URL into Safari. The file should download.


In short, no.

Mavericks just has no clue what APFS even is. It was released four years before APFS was introduced even at beta level.
It cannot read it, it cannot write it. It cannot even know what it is - meaning any attempt to force use on an APFS drive, by using 'lower-level' tools may result in damage to the drive.

  • Thank you- If I am looking specifically to update it, and the current disk image of Catalina is saved as an AFPS image, how can I install it on this Mac? Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 16:16
  • It depends what Mac it is - see my comment above. If you're unsure, see Ultimate Mac Lookup
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 16:16
  • It appears to be this (cited ultimate Mac lookup): MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.3 15" Retina 2012 Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 16:58
  • Then you can upgrade as far as Catalina 10.15, but you must first install High Sierra, 10.13 which will add a firmware update. See support.apple.com/HT211683
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 17:05

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