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The filesystem HFS+, also HFS Plus or Extended Hierarchical File System, is the native filesystem of Mac OS 8.1+ and Mac OS X up to 10.12 Sierra from Apple for Mac computers. It is per design case-insensitive, but there is an optional case-sensitive variant as well.

Mac OS X is a Unix-based operating system with a BSD core. Up to Version 10.5 Leopard it can run on PowerPC and starting from Version 10.4 Tiger it runs on x86. It was renamed to OS X with version 10.8 Mountain Lion and to macOS with version 10.12 Sierra, which is the last to use HFS+ as the primary filesystem of the base installation. Its successor is APFS.



File systems  --->
   Miscellaneous Filesystems  --->
      < > Apple Macintosh file system support
      <M> Apple Extended HFS file system support
   -*- Native language support  --->
      (utf8) Default NLS Option
      <M>   Codepage macroman
      {*}   NLS UTF-8
The filesystem driver does not support journaled HFS+. Since the journal is actually just a special file on the HFS+ volume, it will be mounted read-only if a journal is present. Use -o force to mount a journaled HFS+ volume read/write at your own risk!

On PowerPC-based Macs it is recommended to also select support for the Apple Partition Map (APM), on Intel-based Macs the GUID Partition Table (GPT) is used.

Enable the block layer  --->
   Partition Types  --->
      [*] Macintosh partition map support
      [*] PC BIOS (MSDOS partition tables) support
      [*] EFI GUID Partition support
External devices such as USB or FireWire enclosed Hard Disk Drives can use any partition table with the HFS+ filesystem. Common is APM (Apple Partition Map, "Macintosh"), MBR (Master Boot Record, "PC BIOS") and GPT (GUID Partition Table).



The sys-fs/diskdev_cmds package is a port of HFS/HFS+ utilities from OpenDarwin, the BSD core operating system of macOS (formally Mac OS X). It includes the mkfs and fsck userspace utilities.

root #emerge --ask sys-fs/diskdev_cmds

The commands have names common to OpenDarwin: newfs_hfs and fsck_hfs. The package creates symlinks to mkfs.hfsplus and fsck.hfsplus. To create a new filesystem on a partition, e.g. on /dev/sda2, use:

root #newfs_hfs /dev/sda2
Creating a new filesystem will delete all data on the specified partition! Be very sure about the specified device file! (E.g. /dev/sda2)
newfs_hfs is able to create a HFS and a HFS+ filesystem. With the option -w it can also add a HFS wrapper to a HFS+ partition. Other options include -v "Volume Label". See the newfs_hfs(8) manpage for more information.


The sys-fs/hfsplusutils package was traditionally used on PowerPC based Macs. It provides utilities similar to those for HFS from the sys-fs/hfsutils package.

root #emerge --ask sys-fs/hfsplusutils

With sys-fs/hfsplusutils a filesystem isn't mounted as part of /, instead the provided utilities allow limited access to the filesystem.

root #mac-fdisk -l /dev/sda
        #                    type name                  length   base      ( size )  system
/dev/sda1     Apple_partition_map Apple                     63 @ 1         ( 31.5k)  Partition map
/dev/sda2              Apple_Boot NewWorld Bootblock   1286080 @ 64        (628.0M)  Unknown
/dev/sda3              Apple_Free Extra                1073152 @ 1286144   (524.0M)  Free space
/dev/sda4               Apple_HFS Tiger              209715200 @ 2359296   (100.0G)  HFS
On PowerPC Macs with Apple Partition Map, both HFS and HFS+ filesystems are type Apple_HFS. Special partitions, such as case-sensitive HFS+ or Software-RAID partitions, will be Apple_HFSX.
Some HFS+ partitions have a HFS wrapper partition for compatibility reasons which cannot be used.

Select the partition with hpmount:

root #hpmount /dev/sda4

On the selected partition, the commands hp[ls|pwd|mkdir|cd|copy|rm] can be used for file operations, instead of Unix "/" for directories the colon ":" has to be used. E.g. /dir/to/file will be :dir:to:file for the specified commands.

root #hpls
Apple Extras     Desktop Folder   Develop

The partition is released with the hpumount utility.

root #hpumount /dev/sda4
For further help refer to the manpage (man 1 hfsp).

See also

  • HFS — the native filesystem of the Apple Macintosh and its operating system up to Mac OS 8.
  • Filesystem — a means to organize data to be retained after a program terminates.
  • Mount — the attaching of an additional filesystem to the currently accessible filesystem of a computer.
  • Removable media — any media that is easily removed from a system.
  • /etc/fstab — a configuration file that defines how and where the main filesystems are to be mounted, especially at boot time.