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Apple File System (APFS) is a proprietary drive format system that Apple introduced in macOS High Sierra (10.13) in 2017. APFS volumes used by Macs can be managed through Apple's Disk Utility. APFS was also adopted in iOS 10.3, tvOS 10.2, and watchOS 3.2.


APFS is designed to accommodate the use of solid-state drive storage across Apple's product line and address shortcomings of the long-used HFS Plus (Mac OS Extended) drive format, such as the 2040 date limit. There is/are 193589 day(s) and 12 hour(s) left before the clock used by APFS itself expires on July 21, 2554 at 23:34:33 Greenwich Mean Time.[1]


When files are copied within the same APFS volume, the file system will "clone" the data by making a reference to the original, instead of writing to additional drive space. Changes are written to the drive when one or both of the files modified. This uses drive space more efficiently and improves performance of copying files witin the same drive. The potential drawback is that file corruption caused by data decay in the original file would affect all of the cloned files.[2]

File system structure[]

APFS-formatted drives can be partitioned into "containers" in which individual volumes are assigned specific roles. Volumes with preboot, recovery, and virtual memory (VM) roles are not mounted and remain hidden by default. Starting with macOS Catalina (10.15), volumes can be organized into "volume groups" where the bootable macOS system and data are kept in separate volumes and the system is kept locked by default. The purpose of this separation is to protect the macOS system from modification by hackers.[3]

The following is the storage structure of APFS using a GUID Partition Table (GPT):[3]

The layout of APFS volumes was updated again for macOS Ventura (13).[4]


  1. Decoding the APFSfile system (PDF) by Kurt H. Hansen and Fergus Toolan, Norwegian Police University College. 2017-06-21.
  2. Copy, move and clone files in APFS, a primer by hoakley, The Eclectic Light Company. 2020-04-14.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Working with APFS Volume Groups by Mike Bombich, Bombich Software. 2020-03-16.
  4. Ventura volume layout by hoakley, The Eclectic Light Company. 2022-10-25.

External links[]


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