Mac Tutorials

How to Use Disk Utility on Mac

Want to make the most of Disk Utility on Mac? This powerful tool, which comes pre-installed with every copy of macOS, is usually all you need to manage and maintain all your storage drives. So, before spending money on third-party solutions, learn how to use Disk Utility on Mac to your advantage.

 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the built-in Disk Utility interface and explain how to use the app to perform common tasks such as partitioning disks, fixing drive errors, creating disk images, and more.

Before we start:

 

If Disk Utility seems a little overwhelming, don’t give up. Use MacKeeper’s Premium Services to get the assistance you need from experienced professionals. Whether you want to format a USB drive or recover an important disk that isn’t responding, MacKeeper’s experts can help you through every step of the process.

 

Here’s how to use Premium Services to contact an expert at any time:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper.
  2. When the program opens, click Premium Services in the sidebar.
  3. Select the Chat Now button to be connected with an expert in seconds.
  4. To get the best help, be sure to provide your expert with a clear understanding of what you want to use Disk Utility for, and any issues you’re facing.

What is Disk Utility on Mac?

Disk Utility is an app built into macOS that offers a collection of useful disk management tools. You can use it to carry out common setup, maintenance, and troubleshooting tasks for both internal and external storage devices.

 

Here’s an overview of its key features:

  • Formatting or erasing storage drives and disks
  • Diagnosing and fixing issues that could corrupt your data
  • Partition or removing partitions from a drive
  • Creating new disk images
  • Combining multiple disks to set up a RAID array

Disk Utility can also be used in macOS Recovery mode to erase a troublesome startup disk before a clean macOS install and to manage storage devices when your Mac’s primary drive doesn’t boot.

Where is Disk Utility on Mac?

Disk Utility is somewhat hidden away on Mac, but it's easy to get to once you know where to find it. In Finder, simply navigate to /Applications/Utilities, and you’ll find Disk Utility there. In macOS Recovery mode, you can select Disk Utility in the Recovery window before clicking Continue.

How to open Disk Utility on Mac

To open Disk Utility from within macOS, follow these steps:

  1. In Finder, select Applications in the sidebar, then open the Utilities folder.
  2. Double-click Disk Utility to launch it.
Disk Utility on Mac in the Applications/Utilities folder in Finder.
Launch Disk Utility from Applications/Utilities in Finder

To use Disk Utility in macOS Recovery mode, the process takes a few extra steps, but it’s not too difficult. First, figure out what kind of processor your Mac has, then choose the right option below.

 

On a Mac with Apple Silicon:

  1. Shut down your Mac and wait for it to power down completely.
  2. Press and hold the power button until the Options button appears.
  3. Click Options, then select Continue.
  4. When the Recovery window appears, select Disk Utility, then click Continue.
A MacBook keyboard with the power button highlighted. You can press and hold the power button to access Disk Utility in macOS Recovery mode.
Step 1. After shutting down your Mac, press and hold power
The macOS boot selection screen showing the startup disk and Options menu. To get to Disk Utility in macOS Recovery mode, you need to select the Options button.
Step 2. Select Options
A list of options in macOS Recovery mode. Here, you can choose to boot to Disk Utility, where you can make manage and run First Aid on your Mac's startup disk.
Step 3. Click Disk Utiltiy, then click Continue

On a Mac with an Intel chip:

  1. Restart your Mac, then immediately press and hold Command and R on your keyboard.
  2. When the Recovery window appears, select Disk Utility, then click Continue.
A MacBook keyboard with the Command and R buttons highlighted. You can press and hold these buttons immediately after powering on your Mac to run Disk Utility in macOS Recovery mode.
Step 1. Hold Command + R after powering on your Mac
A list of Recovery tools in macOS Recovery mode. You can select Disk Utility to launch it.
Step 2. In Recovery mode, select Disk Utility, then click Continue

Important: If you have multiple user accounts on your Mac, you may be prompted to sign in to an administrator account before accessing the startup options.

Disk Utility interface

To make the most out of Disk Utility, you’ll first need to familiarize yourself with its user interface. Fortunately, despite Disk Utility being a powerful tool, Apple has made the program easy to navigate and use, so you shouldn’t find it too overwhelming.

 

When Disk Utility opens, you’ll be greeted by a list of available storage devices on your Mac, including your Mac’s startup disk and any mounted virtual disk images. Buttons for the most common functions are located across the app's top, and other tools can be accessed from the menu bar.

 

Let’s look at what some of those functions do:

  1. First Aid
  2. Restore
  3. Erase
  4. Partition
  5. Volume
  6. Unmount

1. First Aid

First Aid is what you’ll use to diagnose and fix disk errors and other issues you might encounter with your storage devices, making it one of the most important features of Disk Utility. If you have a drive that isn’t responding properly, or your Mac keeps freezing, First Aid could fix it before the problem gets worse.

2. Restore

Restore in Disk Utility should really be named Copy or Clone, because that’s exactly what it does—copies one disk onto another. It’s great for creating a backup, or for carrying over all your data when you swap out a drive. Restore can also help save your files when your Mac’s startup disk is failing.

3. Erase

As you might have guessed, the Erase function in Disk Utility erases disks and storage drives when you no longer need the data they contain. This is the feature you’ll want to use when you’re trying to format an external hard drive on Mac.

4. Partition

There may be times when you want to break up larger drives and disks into smaller ones that can be used for different things, which is where the Partition tool comes in. This lets you add and remove new partitions to supported drives, each of which can have their name, format, and even operating system.

5. Volume

If you need more than just simple partitions, you can use Disk Utility’s Volume function. Volumes let you separate data within a partition or container so that it’s not as easy to access or interfere with. They’re especially useful for protecting sensitive information.

6. Unmount

When you press the Unmount button in Disk Utility, it ejects whichever drive you’ve selected so that it can be safely removed from your Mac, or so that its data isn’t seen by other applications. If the drive remains connected to your machine, you can use the Mount button to access it again later.

What you can use Disk Utility for on your Mac

Disk Utility lets you manage and maintain virtual and physical drives, partitions, and volumes on your Mac without the use of third-party software. You can use it to format disks, copy complete drives, fix storage problems, and more.

 

Disk Utility also tells you everything you need to know about the disks and drives attached to your Mac. For example, if you want to check how much storage your Mac has, you can simply select the volume in Disk Utility, and it’ll tell you.

 

Let’s take a look at how to use the other main features of Disk Utility:

  1. Partition of a physical disk
  2. Fix file system problems with First Aid
  3. Safely delete a partition or drive
  4. Create and work with disk images
  5. Copy volumes and restore disk images
  6. Repair your boot disk with Disk Utility
  7. Configure RAID

1. Partition of a physical disk

Follow these steps to partition a physical disk with Disk Utility:

  1. In Disk Utility, select the disk or drive you want to partition in the sidebar.
  2. Click the Partition button at the top of the Disk Utility window.
  3. Beneath the pie chart, click the + button, then select Add Partition.
  4. Enter a name for the partition, select its format, and then specify its size.
  5. Click the Apply button, then select Partition to confirm you want to proceed.
  6. You may be warned that it’ll take a long time to resize your disk, during which time, you won’t be able to use it. If you’re happy to proceed, click Continue.
A list of drives in Disk Utility on Mac, with one selected. The Partition button at the top of the window allows you to Parition disks.
Step 1. Select your disk, then click Partition
The Partition feature in Disk Utility on Mac. You can use this to create or delete new partitions on supported drives.
Step 2. Click the + button, then select Add Partition
The Partition feature in Disk Utility on Mac, adding a new partition to a drive. After entering the partition information, you can click Apple to continue.
Step 3. Enter the partition information, then click Apply
A partition confirmation dialog in Disk Utility on Mac, which appears after creating a new disk partition.
Step 4. Click Partition to continue

2. Fix file system problems with First Aid

Over time, storage devices can develop odd file system issues or permissions errors. This is especially true with MacBook startup disks. Here’s how to repair a Mac disk with Disk Utility:

  1. Select the drive you want to fix in the Disk Utility sidebar.
  2. Click the First Aid button.
  3. If you’re running First Aid on your Mac’s startup disk, Disk Utility will warn you that your computer will stop responding while the process is carried out. It can also take a long time, especially if you have a traditional hard disk drive (HDD). When you’re happy to proceed, click Continue.
An external drive selected in Disk Utility on Mac. The First Aid button that appears at the top of the window can be used to fix disk errors.
Step 1. Select your drive, then click First Aid
A confirmation dialog box in Disk Utility on Mac, asking the user if they want to proceed with running First Aid.
Step 2. Click Run to confirm

Our heads-up: If Disk Utility detects any issues with your drive while running First Aid, it’ll attempt to fix them. Once the process is complete, you’ll be able to see whether any errors were found, and whether Disk Utility was successful in addressing them.

3. Safely delete a partition or drive

Deleting a partition with Disk Utility is almost as simple as creating a new one. However, before you proceed, ensure that the partition you’re going to delete doesn’t contain any important data. If it does, move it elsewhere, then follow these steps to delete a partition on Mac:

  1. Select the drive that contains the partition you want to delete in Disk Utility.
  2. Click the Partition button.
  3. In the pie chart, select the partition you want to remove, then click the – button.
  4. Click Apply, then click Partition to confirm you want to continue.
The Partition button in Disk Utility on Mac, which can be used to create or delete partitions from disks and drives connected to your Mac.
Step 1. Select your drive, then click Partition
The Partition feature in Disk Utility on Mac. The pie chart shows how your disk is partitioned, and you can use the – button to remove a select partition.
Step 2. Choose the partition to remove, then click the – button

4. Create and work with disk images

Disk images are a great way to package up a collection of data, such as multiple files and folders. You can use them to store content in a place where it can’t be messed with, and to quickly move bundles of data between multiple computers. To create a blank disk image that you can add files to, do the following:

  1. In Disk Utility, select File > New Image > Blank Image.
  2. Give the disk a filename and choose where to store it. The filename is what you’ll see before the disk is opened.
  3. Give the disk a name that will be displayed when it’s open.
  4. Specify the size of the disk, its format, and enable encryption if necessary.
  5. Click Save to confirm, then click Done.
The menu bar options in Disk Utility on Mac, showing the New Image feature. Choose the Blank Image option to create a fresh image you can add files to later.
Step 1. Select File > New Image > Blank Image
The New Image settings options in Disk Utility on Mac. After creating a blank image, it will be mounted automatically and you can start adding files to it.
Step 2. Enter a name and select your preferences, then click Save

Once your new disk image has been created, it’ll be mounted automatically. You can then add files to it and unmount or eject the disk when you’ve finished using it to ensure the files it contains are left alone.

Note from our experts: Depending on your needs, you can make other kinds of disk images. For instance, you can create an image from another disk or a folder, and there’s a secure disk image option for particularly sensitive data.

5. Copy volumes and restore disk images

To copy a drive or volume using the Restore feature in Disk Utility, follow the steps below. First, ensure that the drive you want to copy your volume to has enough free space to fit all the data. This process will erase your drive, so you’ll lose any information it contains. Then do the following:

  1. In Disk Utility, select the volume you want to restore your data, then click the Restore button.
  2. Select the volume or disk you want to copy, then click Restore.
The Restore button in Disk Utility on Mac, which can be used to clone or copy a disk connected to your computer.
Step 1. Select a drive to restore to, then click Restore
The Restore feature in Disk Utility on Mac, showing the option to select a disk to be copied.
Step 2. Choose the drive you want to copy, then click Restore

Warning from our team: Be aware that this process can take a long time—especially if you’re copying large drives. Don’t interrupt it or let your Mac shut down during this time, as the restore will fail, and you could lose important data.

6. Repair your boot disk with Disk Utility

There may be times when your Mac won’t boot properly because of issues with its startup disk. In this case, you’ll want to boot into macOS Recovery mode and use Disk Utility to run First Aid from there. Here’s how:

  1. Follow the steps above to boot your Mac into Recovery mode. Note that the process differs depending on your Mac's kind of chip.
  2. Once in macOS Recovery mode, select Disk Utility from the Recovery window, then click Continue.
  3. Select your Mac’s startup disk in the Disk Utility sidebar. It’s usually named Macintosh HD. Now, click First Aid.
  4. Click Run to confirm, then wait for the process to finish.
A list of Recovery tools in macOS Recovery mode. You can select Disk Utility to launch it.
Step 1. In Recovery mode, click Disk Utility, then Continue
The Macintosh HD startup disk in Disk Utility on Mac. The First Aid button at the top of the screen launches the repair feature that can be used to fix disk issues.
Step 2. Select your Mac’s startup disk, then click First Aid
The First Aid feature in Disk Utility on Mac, showing the confirmation dialog box.
Step 3. Click Run to proceed

Hint from us: If Disk Utility can fix the issues you’re facing with your boot disk or SSD, your MacBook Pro should now start up as normal. If the issues cannot be resolved, you may need to reinstall a fresh copy of macOS or even replace your Mac’s boot disk with another drive if it’s failing.

7. Configure RAID

If you have multiple external drives you want to use with your Mac, you might choose to combine them in a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) configuration. With RAID, multiple disks act as one larger disk, increasing performance and, in some cases, reliability. Here’s how to configure RAID in Disk Utility:

  1. Open Disk Utility, then select File > RAID Assistant from the menu bar.
  2. Choose the type of RAID configuration you want to use. Read the descriptions of each one carefully to ensure you select the right setup for your needs.
  3. Click Next, select the disks you want to use in the RAID array, then click Next again.
  4. Follow the steps on the screen to continue the RAID setup process.
The menu bar options for Disk Utility on Mac, where you can start the RAID Assistant to create a new RAID configuration.
Step 1. In the menu bar, select File > RAID Assistant
RAID Assistant in Disk Utility on Mac showing the RAID types available.
Step 2. Select your RAID type, then click Next
The RAID Assistant in Disk Utility on Mac showing a list of connected drives. After selecting the drives you want to use in your RAID array, you can click the Next button to continue.
Step 3. Choose your drives, then click Next to proceed

Conclusion

Many macOS users overlook Disk Utility because it’s hidden away inside the Utilities folder, or they assume it’s not very powerful because it comes pre-installed on a Mac as standard. But Disk Utility is incredibly effective at carrying out common disk management and maintenance tasks, like creating and removing partitions, copying and restoring volumes, repairing corrupted disks, and more.

 

If you struggle to get your head around Disk Utility, contact MacKeeper’s Premium Services for help. Available 24/7, our team of expert technicians can walk you through all of Disk Utility’s features and assist you in solving any problems you’re having. And it’s not just Disk Utility that they’re great with—our Premium Services team can support any issue you might be having within macOS.

Use your Mac to the fullest! Sign up and get:
Effective tips on how to fix Mac issues
Reliable advice on how to stay safe online
Mac-world news and updates

Thank you!

You’ll love exploring your Mac with us.

Oops, something went wrong.

Try again or reload a page.

Here’s another sign you need to upgrade your macOS ASAP:

30% off your MacKeeper subscription

Сopy the code now and use it in the MacKeeper checkout after the upgrade.

Copy Code

Please be aware that this code cannot be combined with any other discounts, offers, or promotions.

Contents

Unlocked
PC

MacKeeper - your all-in-one solution for more space and maximum security.

Try Now

Read more

How to Install Windows on Mac Using Boot Camp Assistant
How to Install Windows on Mac Using Boot Camp Assistant
How to Uninstall Avast on Mac
How to Uninstall Avast on Mac
arrow

Run Application

step_1

Click Continue

step_2

Click Install

step_1

Your macOS version is lower than OS 10.11. We’d like to offer you MacKeeper 4 to solve the cleaning, privacy, and security issues of your macOS.