What Is MacOS Extended Journaled? [Updated 2024]

Tracy King updated on Jan 11, 2024 | Home > Knowledge Center

Disk Utility will offer you several options when you attempt to format a hard drive or SSD on your Mac computer.

We will discuss one of them: the macOS Extended (Journaled). If you are like most people, you don't know what that means or when it is the preferred option for formatting your device. 

Don't worry; I have it all covered. In this article, you will learn all there is to know about the file system and how it compares to the newer option. You will also get a step-by-step guide on formatting the disk system.

So, what is macOS Extended (Journaled)?

What Is MacOS Extended Journaled?

First, you should know what a file system is. It is a method employed by an operating system to define storage devices and control the storage and retrieval of data. File systems organize data on devices like SSDs, hard disks, flash drives, and CDs.

On the Mac, the common file systems include Apple File System (APFS), MacOS Extended, and exFAT.

macOS Extended, also known as HFS+, was the default file system for Mac from 1998 until 2017 when the fourteenth major release of the macOS replaced it with APFS. Since then, it has remained the default for mechanical and hybrid drives.

Mac OS Extended (Journaled) has taken a backseat to the more advanced APFS. However, it is not becoming obsolete soon, and for a good reason.

Apple has rolled out six major OS versions since 2017, including the latest macOS 13 Ventura, introduced in June 2022. Regardless, tons of Mac computers still run on pre-High Sierra operating systems. This means that if, for instance, you own a Macbook running on El Capitan or Yosemite, you will be unable to access the data stored on an attached drive formatted with APFS.

Also, if your Mac uses a hard disk, it runs Mac OS Extended (Journaled) by default. This does not preclude it from running the newer file system, but the former is better optimized for such mechanical drives.

Can MacOS Extended Journaled Be Read By Windows?

If you own (or regularly work with) Mac and Windows, you may consider sharing a drive on both computers. It would reduce cross-platform issues if you unplug an external hard disk from your Macbook and copy files to your Windows laptop.

Unfortunately, macOS Extended (Journaled) can only be read on Mac computers by default. By extension, this means that Windows cannot read HFS+ file systems. Instead, you will get a prompt asking you to format the drive.

However, there is a caveat. Windows may be unable to read MacOS Extended (Journaled) on its own but can do so with the help of certain third-party tools.

That said, the easiest way out is to use a file system that works seamlessly on both platforms, such as exFAT or FAT32. Both cut out the stress of formatting your drive each time and remove the cost of third-party software. There are differences between them you should watch out for.

APFS Vs MacOS Extended Journaled: Differences and How to Format?

If you use a modern Mac released in 2017 (and later) with a solid-state drive, your computer uses the APFS file system. Apple File System is aptly named, as the tech giant introduced the format to run exclusively on its devices. As a successor, APFS offers improvements over the older macOS Extended (Journaled). 

For one, you get faster speeds and performance across the board. APFS handles data and other tasks like copying and pasting at much faster rates than the previous default can. It is also more reliable, drastically cutting the chances of corrupted files.

What's more, APFS comes with almost instantaneous directory sizing. This is down to the newer file system's method of querying the sizes of directories and their child objects.

While APFS presents a solid upgrade on macOS Extended (Journaled), the latter comes out on top regarding reverse compatibility.

How to Format macOS Extended (Journaled)?

Follow these steps to format macOS Extended (Journaled) on your Mac. 

Note that this process will erase all the data on your drive. Please back up all important files before you begin.

Step 1. Open Disk Utility on your Mac

In the Dock, click "Launchpad" and type "Disk Utility" in the search field. Click the icon.

Step 2. In the top-left corner, click "View" and select "Show All Devices".

Step 3. Select the device you want to format. 

It is the non-indented entry and should have "Media" attached.

Step 4. Click "Erase."

The "Erase" button lies on the header of the window.

Step 5. In the field provided, type in a name for the volume.

Use a name that aligns with the drive you are formatting. 

Step 6. Click the dropdown button beside "Format" and select "Mac OS Extended" (Journaled).

Step 7. Click the dropdown button beside "Scheme" and select "GUID Partition Map."

Step 8. Click "Erase."

Disk Utility will now format the file to Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

Final Verdict 

For the nineteen years up to 2017, Mac systems had Mac OS Extended Journaled as the default file system for drives. It has a successor, but Apple has not abandoned the file system. 

While the newer APFS comes with speed and performance enhancements, MacOS Extended Journaled still has a part to play. For instance, it is the recommended file system format for Mac computers that still run older operating systems or use mechanical drives.

If you use one of the latest models of Mac, then you want to go with APFS when formatting. 


1. What is the difference between macOS extended journaled and APFS? 

Apple introduced APFS with macOS High Sierra to replace macOS Extended (Journaled) as the default file system for solid-state drives (SSD) and flash memory. It offers several improvements over the older file system, such as faster speeds and reliability.

2. Which mac disk format is the best?

Your best disk format depends on what you have to work with. For instance, if you need to format the SSD of your Mac, then you should go with APFS. On the other hand, Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is the recommended choice for formatting an external hard drive that you may use on an older Mac system.

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Updated by Tracy King

Tracy became a member of the EaseUS content team in 2013. Being a technical writer for over 10 years, she is enthusiastic about sharing tips to assist readers in resolving complex issues in disk management, file transfer, PC & Mac performance optimization, etc., like an expert.

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