How to revert back to Apple's HFS+ from APFS

Apple's newest file system, APFS, has some limitations and may not be a good fit for every user. If you want to revert your drives back to HFS+ from APFS, follow the steps in this tutorial.

Image: Matt Elliott/CNET

When Apple introduced APFS to replace the existing HFS+ system, its design was meant to herald changes to how the file system works with newer, modern technologies such as solid-state drives (SSDs). APFS was also designed to overcome inherent deficiencies in HFS+, which has been showing its age for several years.

However, that doesn't mean APFS is everyone, especially considering some of its limitations, such as not being compatible with Time Machine for backups, FileVault 2 for drive encryption, or the inability to format Fusion drives with Apple's newest file system.

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If you've come to rely on any of the aforementioned technologies or require the use of a feature that is not supported by APFS but have already made the leap to using the new file system, fret not--you can revert back to HFS+ by following the simple commands below.

How to delete the APFS partition

Launch Terminal and execute the following command to locate the APFS partition's identifier (Figure A).

diskutil list

Figure A


Once the command runs, the correct device will list Apple_APFS as the GUID partition name. Make a note of the identifier.

When the next command is run, it will destroy the APFS partition and all the data it contains (Figure B).

diskutil apfs deleteContainer /dev/disk2s2

Figure B


If the command displays an error after processing, don't be alarmed--this is known to happen on occasion. To verify that the command proceeded correctly, execute the command from the first step from above once again and locate the matching identifier. It should now read Apple_HFS instead of Apple_APFS (Figure C).

Figure C


Before the partition can be used, it must initialized for the new file system.

Revert the file system back to HFS+

By executing the following command, the partition that previously acted as the container for the APFS file system will be initialized for use with HFS+ (Figure D). The process should only take a few minutes.

diskutil eraseDisk JHFS+ "Disk_Title" /dev/disk2

Figure D


Once the disk is initialized, it will be ready for use on a system-accessible device (Figure E)(Figure F).

Figure E


Figure F


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