I need to format an external hard disk on a MacBook Pro (USB2 connection). In the disk utility, Erase tab, I can only choose between these formats:

  • MacOS Extended (Journaled)
  • MacOS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)
  • MS-DOS (FAT)
  • ExFAT

I do not get the following options, which should be available:

  • MacOS Extended
  • MacOS Extended (Case-sensitive)

OS-X version: Lion 10.7.5

Reason: it seems that an unjournaled MacOS disk is accessible from Linux and Windows.

  • 1
    So you would like to turn the Journaled option off? Can I ask why? (Do you have a reference which says this option "should be available"?) I lack the non-Journaled options here, too (on 10.8.3).
    – Ashley
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 17:20
  • I updated my question adding the reason. Here there is a screenshot that shows the extra options.
    – Pietro
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 18:14
  • 1
    Also, the statement in the article that journaling "might" be slower than non-journaling is pretty much wrong. That was true with HD speeds 10 or 15 years ago, but not any more.
    – MattDMo
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


The article you have seen the non-journaled options in (mentioned in your comment) seems to be talking about 10.6, so I think this option has been removed since.

In my experience, enabling journalling doesn't affect accessibility from Linux or Windows:

  • If your external disk is plugged into your Mac and those other platforms are accessing your data across the network, the journalling isn't visible to them.

  • If you are plugging your external hard disk directly into a Linux or Windows machine, they will need some (probably additional) software to provide access to the (non-native) MacOS Extended format drive... and journalling has been around for quite some time now, so I'd expect most software to implement it (apologies for the handwaving here).

I agree with @MattDMo's answer: I'd say use the default Mac OS Extended (Journaled) if you will be using the drive with Macs only, and MS-DOS (FAT) otherwise (which is fine for storing data, although not really applications without special measures).

  • 1
    Most current Linux distros should be able to mount an HFS+ journaled drive without too much trouble, and I know there are free programs to do the same for Windows XP (it might even be native in more recent versions of Windows). There might be residual issues with writing to the drive (perhaps, perhaps not), but reading should be very straightforward. There are a lot of limitations to FAT, like the maximum size of the filesystem and lack of file/user permissions, so I'd stay away from that unless absolutely forced to...
    – MattDMo
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 19:47
  • you are right, though, in that if the Win/Linux computer is accessing the data over the network through a Mac server, the type of filesystem is irrelevant, as it will be mounted as an NFS or AFS (or maybe Samba) share.
    – MattDMo
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 19:51

Unless you have a very good reason to choose otherwise, it is highly recommended to use a journaling file system to ensure data integrity. In the case of Lion and Mountain Lion, the default is MacOS Extended (Journaled). Case-sensitivity at the disk level can mess with certain apps, and the OS makes it look like files are indeed case-sensitive when you interact with them on the command line.

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