How can I get information if my HD format is case sensitive or case insensitive?

I want to make sure my Mac running Mountain Lion has a case sensitive file system.

  • 5
    As bmike mentioned, using a case sensitive file system is more likely a bad idea -- a number of softwares (most famously from Adobe) will not work on a case sensitive file system. The case sensitive status of the file system is not a 'cool extra feature' for jo random user -- it is something for power users who know what they are doing. For joe random user a case sensitive file system is more likely a liability than not. Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 17:55

8 Answers 8


You can use terminal to read the File System Personality:

diskutil info /

Look for the fields named below:

   File System Personality:  Journaled HFS+
   Type (Bundle):            hfs
   Name (User Visible):      Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

If the file system is case sensitive, you will see Case-sensitive Journaled HFS in the first pasted line and Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled) in the third.

Disk Utility will also show you this from the info window for any File System it can see.

If you see

File System Personality:   APFS
Type (Bundle):             apfs
Name (User Visible):       APFS

you are also case insensitive. There's a version of APFS Case-Sensitive

  • 14
    I don't want to discourage you from using case-sensitive file systems, but be aware that most software tests don't do a good job of covering this edge case and most experienced administrators will advise against enabling this on your boot volume due to past bad experiences supporting this configuration. I usually make an external drive or a dmg when I truly need case-sensitivity for cross platform needs or a very specific code base. You may have good reasons for needing this, but I wanted to make sure others are aware that there can be problems with being too sensitive with your file system.
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 17:31
  • 1
    Yes, i need that for testing web development. Most of hosting use case sensitive. So i want to match it. But like you said: if case sensitive make some software didn't work, seems like case sensitive will be useless :)
    – GusDeCooL
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 15:10
  • 3
    Yours is actually the only reason I have made either test partitions and/or disk images and chosen a case-sensitive filesystem. I keep my system default, but test development, deployment and scripts on a web root based on the alternate file system's path. I'd also add, I haven't run OS X on case-sensitive FS since Snow Leopard days, so I may just be out of date and afraid for nothing due to past experiences. Sounds like you're well armed to give either scenario a go - dive in or compartmentalize your testing.
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 16:39
  • 2
    If you need an environment for testing web development, running a virtual machine is an alternative to consider as well, since there might be other quirks and differences between your Mac and the environment on production servers. Have a look at VirtualBox + Vagrant.
    – Gerry
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 4:44
  • 2
    Note, In OS X 10.8.x (Mountain Lion) I had to do diskutil info as list did not show the expected information.
    – Nick
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 13:40

Something like this should work:


touch abc1
touch abC1
ls ab*

Interpreting Results

  • 1 file - case insensitive
  • 2 files - case sensitive
  • 1
    I tried the same approach in Mac OS 10.12.6. although I have a case sensitive file system only 1 file gets created. How is this possible?
    – Sanandrea
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 14:19
  • 1
    A more direct test would be mkdir mydir && mkdir myDir, which would explicitly error out on a case-insensitive FS.
    – Ruslan
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 10:01

Update for El Capitan, see the attached screen shot from Disk Utility's Info-window.

enter image description here

  • FYI: this still works in Catalina as well. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 19:46

run diskutil info <device> and your answer will be shown.

File System Personality will reflect one of the known personalities.

If you see: File System Personality: Journaled HFS+ that means it's case insensitive. To answer your question, you want to see File System Personality: Case-sensitive Journaled HFS+.


UPDATE: As some people have noted, the answer I proposed below is flawed. @John however has a similar answer without the flaw.

You can do a test in a shell:

  • Open the Terminal

  • Enter the following commands:

     touch abc1
     touch ABC2
     ls a*

If the ls command displays both files, abc1 and ABC2, then your drive is case insensitive (i.e. case does not matter). If only abc1 is displayed, then it is case sensitive (i.e. case does matter).

Before you close Terminal, enter rm abc1 and rm ABC2 to clean up after the test.

  • 4
    How do abc1 and ABC2 collide? Shouldn't it be abc1 and ABC1? Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 19:27
  • 5
    abc1 and ABC2 are not meant to collide. I could have chosen Allan and armour instead as filenames. it is the ls a* command that will tell you weather the file system is case sensitive. If it is, only armour will be listed using my last example, since there is a lower case letter a in ls a*. However, if the OS is not case sensitive, the ls a* command will list both Allan and armour. Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 23:48
  • 1
    My system is the default (insensitive), but my bash console still only displays sensitive results (and also the auto completion functionality).
    – lulalala
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 2:17
  • 2
    @Jean-FrançoisBeauchamp To answer your query: I've edited because your answer was & is incorrect. I'm using Journaled HFS+ which is a case insensitive file system, but it is case preserving. Your method creates two files, abc1 and ABC2, but ls a* only shows the one file. I was just trying to help, however, I don't want to edit against your own wishes and you seem to be sensitive about it - so I will leave the answer as is and leave a downvote instead.
    – wim
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 2:15
  • 2
    @wim Ok, thanks for the explanation! You are right, my answer is flawed. I still prefer an explanation than not my post being edited without understanding why. Patrix is also right about nocaseglob. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 13:06

What does work for me is:

echo -n This file system is case->tmp; echo -n in>>TMP; echo sensitive>>tmp; cat tmp

Fastest way is using Terminal.app:

diskutil info /Volumes/NAME-OF-VOLUME

or (if you want to only see the relevant line)

diskutil info /Volumes/NAME-OF-VOLUME | grep 'User Visible'

You can also use Disk Utility to check the partition format. If the format is case-sensitive, it will say so in the format name, otherwise nothing will be indicated.

You can see the menus on this link: http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/partitioning_tiger.html

Beware that it is not the "Mac" that is case-sensitive or not, it is each partition on your drives.

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