View & Mount Hidden Partitions in Mac OS X

Sep 23, 2011 - 7 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.

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

7 Comments

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  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

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