In the past, Disk Utility was the best starting point for the vast majority of disk-related tasks.

As technologies within (or possible with) OS X have developed – without equal development of Disk Utility – so it may be useful to have:

  • a shortlist of actions that are best attempted/begun without Disk Utility.

This question

I'd like answers to form something like:

  • a shortlist of things that appear illogical or impossible in Disk Utility.

I'll seed at least one answer to exemplify what I have in mind.

For some of the things mentioned, there will be answers elsewhere in Stack Exchange – so here, commentary may be minimal.


Maybe more noticeable with Mountain Lion than with Lion:

  1. some capabilities that are integral to the operating system are misrepresented or impossible within Disk Utility
  2. some capabilities that are added by third part software are misrepresented within Disk Utility

… and so on.

I'm fairly familiar with routines for HFS Plus and for ZEVO implementations of ZFS. Less familiar with routines for other file systems (both native and not native to OS X).

Recall that features such as Core Storage and FileVault 2 are relatively new, and without native support in Snow Leopard, so let's be gentle in our observations – for any peculiarity, assume that an overriding mantra of 'first do no harm' is applied by Apple.

Beyond this question

A redesign of Disk Utility, by Apple, is desirable but that will be beyond the scope of Ask Different so please: no design suggestions here.

Discussion in Ask Different Chat

Additional context (November 2015)

http://forums.macrumors.com/posts/22209602 for a public record of what was originally a private enhancement request (ER), made through AppleSeed in 2012.

  • Alongside the close vote: please, can you offer an improvement to the question? I do wish for this question to be acceptable in the way discussed with Nathan Greenstein – an inventory of what Disk Utility doesn't support, if you like. Jul 29, 2012 at 10:29
  • Vote to close because I don't see the point of it. Just collecting a list of potential non-features of Disk Utility doesn't provide any value. Collecting a list of features a (any) Disk Utility should support would probably be better (at least for someone who wants to build a new one) but is off-topic.
    – nohillside
    Aug 14, 2012 at 17:32
  • This question is partly a companion to, more focused than, What features from Lion will be lost when upgrading to Mountain Lion?. Aug 14, 2012 at 18:33
  • 1
    This feels more like the beginning of a blog post than the summary of a problem you face in need of an answer.
    – bmike
    Aug 14, 2012 at 20:52
  • @bmike I agree. I think this really isn't best as a question, but rather a blog post, as you suggested.
    – daviesgeek
    Aug 14, 2012 at 21:24

4 Answers 4


Things not within a logical volume group (LVG) appear to be within the LVG

Affected: some applications of Core Storage, including but not limited to FileVault 2 in Mountain Lion.


Disk Utility 13 (426) in Build 12A269 of OS X 10.8:

A shot of Disk Utility with an LVG containing three things not within the LVG

Volumes swap and spare are JHFS+ and truly not within the LVG.

disk0s3 is an Apple_Journal, currently unused and truly not within the LVG.

Disk Utility misrepresents all three as being within the LVG.

  • If you clarify those acronyms, about 50 times as many people will be able to understand your post. I'm guessing LVG is "logical volume group"? Is JHFS+ "Mac Extended Journaled" I'm a pretty geeky person, but I'm still uncertain.
    – username
    Aug 14, 2012 at 20:16
  • Yes, logical volume group and LVG both in the first line. LVG is the acronym. Thanks for the nudge. Nov 12, 2012 at 8:21

A physical disk may be invisible

Affected: some applications of Core Storage, including but not limited to FileVault 2 in Mountain Lion.

S.M.A.R.T. status may be invisible

When Disk Utility can not visualise the disk:

  • it is impossible for the utility to present the status.

For users who see this as a regression in Mountain Lion: there are workarounds.


Management of some types of partitions becomes impossible with the Partition tab

With Lion and Mountain Lion, when the Partition tab of Disk Utility in Lion can not manage a partition on a physical disk that uses Apple Core Storage:

With Mountain Lion, disappearance of the physical disk – presentation of an LVG in its place – may be an additional source of confusion.


Apple does provide some non-Finder alternatives for advanced users to show items that would otherwise be hidden, or provide extra options:

a) Disk Utility Debug mode (let's you see Recovery Partitions, etc)

defaults write com.apple.DiskUtility advanced-image-options -bool true

b) the "hdiutil" command-line tool (provides more formats, etc):

man hdiutil

The majority of users just need to back up, restore disk images and (visible) volumes. I doubt the average user even bothers with software raid or partioning.

I have a feeling none of this info is news to the original poster (and doesn't address the actual question, to be honest), but maybe others will find it helpful.

  • 1
    True, this is not a perfect fit for the question. However the question is arguably not a good fit with Ask Different – and there's tumbleweed – so I'm grateful for the attention. Recent attention to Fusion Drive/DIY (and who knows what's to come from Apple?) might encourage broader thinking about what can not be done with Disk Utility. Nov 12, 2012 at 6:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .