I have a mid 2009 MBP. I am going to install Boot Camp beside Snow Leopard. I would like to have a third partition, DATA, and format it FAT32, where I will keep my data files easily and safely accessible by both Snow Leopard and Win7 on boot camp partition.

Does anyone knows the easiest procedure that I should follow to create this third partition? should I create it before/while/after installing Boot Camp?


4 Answers 4


Solution 1:

  • Shrink the Mac partition.
  • Create TWO partitions in the remaining space.
  • Set up windows in one.
  • Set up data in the other.

While I have not run the windows 7/8 installs, the older versions would present an interface to use an existing partition if present. If not present, it would default to using the entire remainder of the disk, but this could be over-ridden. So you may have an option in an ordinary install to not use the entire remainder of the disk.

Solution 2:

Use an external drive as your Data drive. Using a cloud drive such as DropBox, or Google Drive is also a possibility.

Opinion warning: I'm not a fan of multi-boot. The stuff you need to do is always in the OS that isn't running. Many sad tales of installation processes that were unkind to foreign OSs. Now that both Parallels and Virtual Box have reasonable performance, I consider that for most uses, a virtual machine is a better solution.


Solution 3.

Run windows in a virtual machine, and either export a file system via Samba (SMB) or by the virtual environment's file sharing system. This alternative can be expanded to allow DOS VMs Linux VMs, Solaris VMs. Note that screen handling can be kludgy for any OS that doesn't have the appropriate extensions.

Solution 4.

Run Windows on a separate box and connect to it via Remote Desktop. Again, clunky. But I know guys who use their iPad this way to connect to their windows box at work. Not sure how much serious work they get done this way, but fetching the power point presentation they left at work may be sufficient.

Solution 5.

Run windows on a machine next to your Mac so that you can spin your chair.

Bootcamp makes the most sense if you actually need to use the same hardware at maximum performance. But unless you are needing access to massive amounts of data from both OSs an external hard drive or even an 8 Gb thumb drive is likely addequate.

If performance isn't as critical, then running in a VM gives you access to both environments, and the additional security of having a mac beteen your windows box and the cruel world. (Yes macs can be pawned, but it now means that an attacker has to get through 2 OSs defences.)

The Remote Desktop solutions require a reasonably high speed data link.

The 2nd computer solution is less than ideal for portability.

Hope this helps.


It can be done if you get your mind outside OSX-BootCamp box mentality.

  1. On new formatted HDD install fresh your OS X, install what you may need in it.
  2. Via boot camp create a second partition for W7 or W8, create your installation with apple drivers using an external USB flash drive and your iso image of W7 or/and W8. 3.Shrink to a clearly defined size your Mac OS X partition 100-200Gb. 4.Obtain Acronis True Image software ISO 2014 - burn it on CD or DVD or Blue-ray in W7 or W8 via Windows image burner. If your mac doesn't have DVD drive you have 2 options - external usb one or use a special software to burn that image on usb flash drive {xbootvs1.0beta14 will do it just fine}.

  3. Download the new iso of Linux Ubuntu and "burn" it on a usb flash drive - in Windows can be easily done with Universal-USB-Installer-1.9.xx or the iso of GPARTED 16.x - use the same technique.

  4. Since you have already an NTFS partition you can boot from Acronis optical media or usb flash drive pressing ALT key. Navigate, create a *.tib backup of your Mac OS X partition on your NTFS partiton [split image in 700Mb size pieces to be compatible with FAT32 volumes]. Reboot, copy your created image on external HDD, better formatted in FAT 32.

  5. Reboot in Linux or GPARTED, copy your hidden Recovery HD partition to an empty external HDD; erase your entire HDD, change it to MBR from GPT; create new partitions:

    • 1st for Mac OS X - the size you shrank it before, assign FAT 32 file system,
    • then the second W7 partition i.e. 100Gb NTFS,
    • then I did third W8 partition 100 Gb NTFS,
    • then the rest will be an extended partition.
    • Inside that extended partition you can have several partitions :
    • I have first logical partition 50 Gb in ext4 file system for Linux Ubuntu,
    • then second logical NTFS partition for data,
    • then HD Recovery HFS+ Journ partition from original Mac OS X – you can copy it back now from your external HDD.
  6. Reboot in Acronis, restore your OSX from your external HDD backup.

  7. Reboot in OS X and install rFFIt and your favorite driver for NTFS - open source or Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X so you can see and write into NTFS partitions. Also you can install Paragon extfs for mac to be able to see Linux partition. You can also disable journaling in OS X from command line if you want Linux to see and write into Mac OS X partition. 9.Install W7 from your media rebooting and holding ALT on second partition, install the bootcamp drivers, install MediaFour Mac Drive for Windows to write into HFS+J Mac OS X partition or Paragon HFS for Windows. Install Paragon ext fs for free to be able to write into Linux partition from Windows. 10.Install W8 from your media rebooting and holding ALT on third partition, install the bootcamp drivers, install MediaFour MacDrive for Windows to write into HFS+J Mac OS X partition or Paragon HFS for Windows. Install Paragon ext fs for free to be able to write into Linux partition from Windows.
  8. Install your Linux Mint or Ubuntu into fourth logical partition. Install support for HFS and other file systems.
  9. On consequent bootings in OS X rEFIt will graphically display the choices for your OS types – with logos of Apple, Windows or Penguin’s logo of Linux.
  10. OS X boots directly. Other OS systems are bundled in GRUB loader from Linux, which you should edit with Grub customizer utility from inside Linux. Thus when you press the second choice the Linux penguin appears your previously edited GRUB options. From there Linux boots directly.
  11. When choosing windows from partition 2 once again you have your GRUB loader with those 3 choices – thus rename them correctly i.e. W 7 64 bit and W 8 64 bit. When you choose once again W7 it loads the Windows Boot loader of W7 with 2 choices Windows 7 and Windows 8 – choose once again W7 since if you choose W8 it will reboot.
  12. When choosing Windows from partition 3 once again you have your GRUB loader with those 3 choices – thus rename them correctly i.e. W 7 64 bit and W 8 64 bit. When you choose once again W8 it loads the Windows Boot loader of W8 with 2 choices Windows 7 and Windows 8 – choose once again W8 since if you choose W7 it will reboot.
  13. Conclusion: to have 4 working OS, plus data partition {plus your Recovery HD} you need to have MBR type of HDD since Windows 7 and Windows 8 cannot see more than 4 primary partitions on GPT original Mac HDD system due to lack of specific Unified Extensible Firmware Interface support instead of BIOS, while your MacBook has a special Firmware emulating only a rudimentary BIOS for your Windows when you do not use directly bootcamp to install and use it. On your new MBR HDD all OS-es can see more logical partitions inside extended fourth partition of HDD. Also Linux can be installed on a logical partition inside extended one, while OS X and any of Windows 7 or 8 need only primary partitions.

Here is the complete step by step detailed article to achieve 2 windows partitions - http://macosxtricks.blogspot.com

  • Please can you expand on this answer to provide the core steps required. The link provided may change or become unavailable in the future. Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 12:28

Probably after you use BootCamp to partition and set up Windows, you can boot into Disk Utility from the Snow Leopard DVD, shrink either the Windows or main Mac HD partition, and then make a new partition. But without personal experience trying that I can't guarantee it won't mess up BootCamp or your OS, so it'd be important to back up everything in case you need to reinstall OS X and restore from Time Machine (or a Disk Utility-generated image backup).

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