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A Closure Look at Basic Partitioning Tasks on Mountain Lion (Mac OS X)


OS X v10.8 Mountain Lion
OS X v10.8 Mountain Lion

“There must be massive amount of space available on your Mac drive, which you use to store your personal as well as professional data. Well, storing data along with the system files on a common volume is not in your favor. Therefore, you need to partition your Mac drive into a number of volumes. However, partitioning your Mac drive requires you to have a reliable Mac partitioning app. You can have Mac OS X Mountain Lion installed on one partition and your data on the other ones. This not only will simplify data storage on your Mac, but also allows Multi-booting your Mac system.”

Though hard drives provide massive amount of storage space, it is not at all secure to save your data together with the operating system because it may crash anytime and all your data will be lost. To avoid the odds for data loss, partition your Mac drive into a number of volumes and store data separate from the system files. In spite of avoiding data loss due to OS crash, following are the advantages of partitioning Mac drive:

The hard drive is an integral component of your Mac that facilitate storing massive amount of data ranging from a single text file (having its size in KBs) to a movie (having its size in GBs). In case your Mac drive has only one partition (i.e. the boot volume, Macintosh HD); storing data on it may not be in your favor, as failure of your Mac makes your data inaccessible. On the other hand, if several volumes are available on your Mac drive, you can save different types of data separately. For example, you can store the collection of movies on one volume, pictures on another, and likewise, your professional files and reports on a separate volume.

When it comes to partition your Mac drive, you can have a number of partitions on your Mac. Based on your requirements, you can partition your Mac drive when installing the Mac OS X or you can partition it after Mac installation as well. Once you partition your Mac drive, you can modify these volumes (on your Intel-based Mac) anytime irrespective of whether they contain data or not. For this, since you must have a Mac partitioning tool, you can use either Mac inbuilt Disk Utility or a commercial Mac partition manager. Since a separate volume behaves like a separate disk, partitioning your Mac drive into several volumes allows you multi boot (i.e. having multiple operating systems installed on a single hard drive, but in separate volumes) your Mac drive as well. In this regard, Mac OS X offers support for Windows operating systems as well. Therefore, you can install Windows on a separate volume of your Mac drive. For partitioning the Mac drive, you can use Mac inbuilt Disk Utility as well.

Disk Utility as the Partition Manager

Mac partition manager in OS X v10.8 Mountain Lion
Mac partition manager in OS X v10.8 Mountain Lion

Along with formatting the hard drives, Disk Utility also allows you create, modify, delete, image, clone, and repair Mac volumes.

Since Mac facilitates partitioning its hard drive into several volumes, you can partition it both during and after installing the Mac OS X. In case the drive you are going to partition is brand new, you need to format this drive as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) in order that your Mac OS X Mountain Lion can perform data read/write operations on it.

In fact, partitioning a brand new drive on Mac is not that difficult; however, you must have bit-by-bit knowledge of the process. If you are going to partition a brand new internal hard drive, then you need to install this drive on your Mac or you can hook up this drive to your Mac with a SATA to USB cable as well. In contrast, if it is an external hard drive, then you can directly hook it up to your Mac with a USB cable. Based on the Mac partition manager you are using, steps to partition the hard drive on Mac OS X Mountain Lion are different. Well, in case you are using Disk Utility as the default partition manager, you can refer to the following steps:

Important: If you are going to install an internal drive, then make sure your turn on your Mac after installing it. Alternatively, you can hook up the hard drive to your Mac with a USB cable even if it is already turned on.

Formatting a Hard drive on Mac

Formatting a Hard drive
Formatting a Hard drive

When your Mac detects this drive, Disk Insertion message pops up. On this message box, you need to click the Initialize button. Clicking the initialize button launches Disk Utility wherein you can see that your Mac drive and its volumes are listed in the left pane.

  • In the left pane of Disk Utility, select this hard drive and go to the Erase tab in the right pane

(You can recognize this drive with its name, which is same as that of its manufacturer’s name, followed by its storage capacity.)

  • Click the Format dropdown menu and choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
  • In the Name field, type a name for this drive and
  • Click the Erase button to format it

Once this drive is formatted, it is shown on the desktop. Formatting this drive as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) enables your Mac OS X Mountain Lion use it for data read/write operations. After that, you need to choose a Partition Map Scheme for this drive. For this, track the following steps:

  • With this drive selected in the left pane of Disk Utility, go to the Partition tab at the right
  • Herein, click the Options button and select a Partition Map Scheme for this Drive

(On your Intel-based Mac, select GUID Partition Table. Alternatively, choose Apple Partition Map on your PowerPC-based Mac and click the OK button.)

Partitioning Mac Drive

Partitioning Mac Drive
Partitioning Mac Drive

After choosing the Partition Map Scheme for this drive, you can start formatting it right in the Partition tab of Disk Utility (or you can also use a professional partition manager for Mac). However, you must be clear with the number of partitions you want to create on it. After that, you can proceed with the following steps:

  • With this drive selected in the left pane of Disk Utility, go to the partition tab at the right
  • Herein, click the Volume Scheme dropdown menu and choose the number of partitions

(Choosing the number of partitions in the Volume Scheme dropdown menu splits the selected hard drive into the chosen number of partitions, which you can see in the graphical view of that hard drive.)

  • After that, select one partition and give it a Name, choose the Format as Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and specify its Size

(The Size field allows you set a particular size for this volume, as the partitions created in the earlier step are of equal size.)

  • Now, repeat this step for other volumes as well
  • Once finished, click Apply button to save the changes

When you click the Apply button, a warning message pops up, on which, click the Partition button to begin. The time taken by the process relies on the size of this drive and the number of partitions to be created on it.

Resizing Mac Partition

Mac OS X facilitates resizing one or more volumes on your Intel-based Mac. Therefore, in case the volume containing the collection of your favorite movies is full, you do not have to fuss over it since you can enlarge, thereby utilizing the free space available on your Mac drive. Alternatively, you can shrink other volumes to get required amount of free space. Track the following steps for this:

Step1: With this drive selected in the left pane of Disk Utility, go to the Partition tab at the right.

Step2: If the free space is available on your Mac drive:

  • Hold the bottom boundary of the volume that is to be enlarged and drag it downwards to enlarge it.

Step3: If free space is not available:

  • Hold a volume containing free space from its bottom boundary and drag it upwards to shrink it.

Step4: After creating the free space on your Mac drive, repeat the Step2 to enlarge the required volume.

Step5: After that, click Apply button to save the changes that you have done so far.

Deleting Mac Partition

Deleting Mac Partition
Deleting Mac Partition

Sometimes, you need to delete one or more Mac partitions, let us say to utilize the free space to enlarge another volume. For this, you need to track the following steps using Disk Utility:

  • With the drive containing the volume to be deleted in the left pane of Disk Utility, go to the Partition tab at the right
  • Now, select the volume to be deleted in the graphical structure of this hard drive and click the minus (-) button to delete it

However, make sure you back up all your data stored on this volume, as it will cause data loss otherwise.

Though formatting Mac drive, creating, resizing, and deleting partitions on Mac are general scenarios, you must be careful when performing any of these tasks. Moreover, if you are not comfortable using Disk Utility, then you can use a commercial partition manager for Mac instead.

Guest Post by: Jyoti Kumari is a Mac lover who spends her time to research new applications for Mac OS X like Mac disk partition software  defrag tool, drive monitoring tool to keep Mac performance optimized.

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