View & Mount Hidden Partitions in Mac OS X

Sep 23, 2011 - 14 Comments

View and mount a hidden partition in Mac OS X

By enabling a hidden debug feature in Disk Utility, you are able to both view and mount hidden partitions on hard drives in Mac OS X. Hidden partitions include things like Linux swap, GUID partitions, a Windows Recovery drive, and OS X Lion or Mountain Lion onwards Recovery HD partition, and once they’re mounted they can be edited or formatted just like any other drive. There are many cases where you’ll want access to these hidden partitions, and we’ll show you exactly how to do that.

Show & Mount Hidden Partitions with Disk Utility in OS X

Before gaining access to the hidden partitions you will need to turn on the hidden debug menu within Disk Utility:

  • Quit out of Disk Utility, and launch Terminal to type the following defaults write command:
    defaults write com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled 1

  • Relaunch Disk Utility and look for “Debug” to appear alongside ‘Help’
  • Click on the new Debug menu and pull down and select “Show every partition” so that a checkmark appears next to it

Show hidden partitions in Mac OS X with Disk Utility

  • Now the hidden partitions will displayed alongside mounted visible partitions, but they will appear grey rather than black
  • Right-click on the greyed out partition to mount and choose “Mount [Drive Name]”

Mounting a hidden partition

Going back to the Finder, you’ll now find the hidden partition is now visible as any other drive, and it will even appear on the Desktop if you have icons shown there. Be aware that if you start moving or deleting files on crucial partitions like Recovery HD, they very well may not work when you need them to.

It’s really not recommended without a compelling reason (like downgrading to 10.6), but you can delete “Recovery HD” using this method to make the drive visible.

Disable the Disk Utility Debug Menu
To hide the debug menu again from Disk Utility, use the following defaults write command:

defaults write com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled 0

This may be only available to Lion, Mountain Lion, and the newest versions of OS X, I no longer dual boot between 10.6 and Lion so I’m unable to check the Snow Leopard side.

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: AJ in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

14 Comments

» Comments RSS Feed

  1. vale says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It works also in Snow Leopard. Note that the debug menu will be available only for users that are Administrator.

  2. Guy Manchester says:

    My Linux & Linux swap partitions have always been in Disk Utilty greyed out. Doing this only adds the 200mb system partition before my Lion partition.
    Also neither the actual Linux or the Linux Swap partitions mount after selecting “mount” from the control click menu.

  3. PaddleorDie says:

    I should be able to duplicate the “Recovery HD” partition to create a portable recovery disc right… ?

  4. seth says:

    this also works in 10.5

  5. mehrab says:

    Thaaaaaaaaaaaank yoooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

    very so MUCH!!!!

  6. Dale Sherbourn says:

    can view partion but it wont mount IO error 22, 19
    even with debug done and disk warrior and disk repair
    and drive genius 3
    10.8.8 Hitachi 1tb 2 Partitions both journaled with ops on both

  7. Andres says:

    Does not work in Mavericks (10.9.5),

    • btn says:

      Yes this works in Disk Utility in OS X Mavericks and OS X Yosemite, all versions. You’re mounting it wrong. You’re viewing it wrong.

  8. emilio says:

    Tengo problema que indican con el ejemplo.
    Lo realize y en terminal escribi
    me dio respuesta
    “command not fount”

    Ayuda por fa vor .No he podido instalar Lion Montain ,ya que no aparece el “RECOVERY HD ” :(

    Agradecido de cualquier ayuda

  9. Evan says:

    This no longer works in OSX 10.11 (El Capitan). Probably because Apple has locked debug mode access for all default apps.

  10. PRABHU says:

    Not able to see the debug option in the menu. I am running it as admin only.

  11. avoiceintheshadow says:

    Not able to see debug running 10.7.5 and I’m in admin only mode

    • scrutinizer says:

      @avoiceintheshadow,
      I can confirm the debug mode is available as per the article. I’m running 10.7.5 too. Make sure you copy pasted the command exactly as presented without quotes and with all spaces necessary and/or without extra spaces were they’re not. Disk Utility has to be re-launched, you won’t see the debug menu appearing on the go right after you execute the command.

  12. HandyMac says:

    Very useful information; many thanks. I tried it out (on my trusty 2008 Aluminum MacBook, with partitions for 10.6 thru 10.11), and found:

    As noted in comment above, this does not work in 10.11 (El Capitan), presumably because of the introduction of System Integrity Protection (SIP). Apple is locking everything down.

    However, it does work in 10.10 (Yosemite), *and* once the Debug menu is enabled, the Recovery partitions for 10.11 and later (thru 10.14 Mojave, which I have on an external drive) are visible in 10.10’s Disk Utility, can be mounted and inspected.

    At first only a few .plist files can be seen; use a utility such as OnyX to show hidden/invisible files, and you can see and open BaseSystem.dmg, which is where the meat is. (There is some variation in organization among the MacOS versions.)

    There is of course no Recovery HD for Snow Leopard, as the feature was introduced with Lion.

Leave a Reply

 

Shop on Amazon.com and help support OSXDaily!

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates

Tips & Tricks

News

iPhone / iPad

Mac