How To: Partition your hard drive on Mac

Sometimes we need to separate our hard drive into independent chunks of space and we call this partitioning. This is most often not needed, but if you want to install another operating system on your computer you will find this to be needed or to protect a system from failure. (Please note that this does not protect you from hardware failures)


Partitioning on the Mac is quite simple, you first need to launch Disk Utility application, found in /Applications/Utilities. After launching the Disk Utility, just click your Hard Drive from the list to the left, in this case 320.07 GB WDC WD32…, and then select the tab partition, as pictured below.

From here all we need to do is select the partition we want to resize, we will use Macintosh HD. Then click the plus sign in the lower left hand corner. A new partition will show up in the list, here it is Macintosh HD 2*. We will want to select it, as we did previously, and modify the Name, Format, and Size, a break down follows:

  • Name – The viewable name of the partition (as we see the drive in Finder)
  • Format – The type of partition, used by various operating systems (i.e. Windows 7, OSX, or Ubuntu) and for various purposes.
    Note that a partition format can usually change when installing an operating system.

    • Mac OS Extended (Journaled) – Most often used with Mac OSX Systems. [learn more]
    • Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled) – Most often used with Mac OSX Server Systems. [learn more]
      Not recommended for most users due to incompatibility with some applications including Adobe Photoshop and the Adobe Suite.
    • MS-DOS (FAT) – Most often used with Windows operating systems prior to Windows XP (NTFS). [learn more]
    • ExFAT – Most often used with Windows Server operating systems. [learn more]
    • Free Space – An unformatted partition.
  • Size – The amount of space you need, in Gigabytes. As a very rough standard most operating systems need at least 20 GB.

Finally you’ve reached the last step, hit Apply…. Wait for it…. Voila, you have a new partition!

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