Mac Os Extended Journaled Vs Case sensitive: Any Difference?

While formatting your hard drive or SSD on mac using the disk utility, you will find two options; Mac OS Extended Journaled and Case Sensitive. While you may think these options are the same but in reality there are differences between them which can affect the performance of your Mac.

In Case Sensitive, file names with the same characters but different case letters are treated differently. While the file system of choice for macOS is macOS journaled which maintains a change log. Hence, in the event of an unexpected power interruption, your file system should continue to function.

Keep on reading to make a decision about which file system you should go for while formatting the drive on your Macbook.

What Do You Mean By Mac OS Extended Journaled?

MacOS Extended Journaled is one of the few disk formatting formats that mac supports. From 1998 until 2017, it served as Mac’s default file system and goes by the name HFS+.

What Do You Mean By Mac OS Extended Journaled

However, it hasn’t gone out yet and is still active in older Mac models. The Mac operating system manages data on storage devices such hard drives, solid-state drives, and USB flash drives using the extended Journaled file system format.

The term “journaled” was created for a reason; when journaling is enabled, the file system keeps track of all upcoming changes to the file system structure in a journal (a unique log).

This journal assists in lowering the risk of data loss or corruption by ensuring that, in the event of a crash, the file system can rapidly and effectively recover to an uninterrupted state.

Therefore, the main purpose of this file system is to improve data integrity and recovery in the event of unplanned system shutdowns or crashes.

What Do You Mean By Mac OS Extended Case Sensitive?

Just like Mac OS Journaled, another disk formatting format is the Case Sensitive. By default, MacOS doesn’t use a case-sensitive file system.  Therefore, you cannot have two files with the names File.txt and file.txt.

However, with Case sensitive it is possible to have two files with the same name but different case letters like the above file name.

Based on the letter casing, file and folder names are processed separately in this instance. Uppercase and lowercase letters are regarded as separate characters as a result.

It’s essential to remember that using a case-sensitive file system may have an impact on how certain software applications work with it.  So, this may necessitate caution while managing files to prevent confusion caused by changes in letter casing.

Mac OS Extended Journaled Vs Case Sensitive: What Is The Difference?

Even though Mac OS Extended Journaled and Mac OS Extended Case Sensitive may look similar, but there are a lot of differences between them.

CriteriaMacOS Extended JournaledMacOs Extended Case Sensitive
Case sensitivityNoYes
Files namingDoesn’t matterMatter
Compatibility with applicationsHighLess
Default File systemYesNo
File sharing with other operating systemsEasierComplicated

Case sensitivity

When it comes to MacOS extended Journaled, it is case insensitive which means it doesn’t matter if you use uppercase letters or lowercase letters to name them. 

On the other hand, the Case Sensitive file system is case sensitive which means you need to be careful with Uppercase and lowercase letters as it considers uppercase and lowercase differently. Uppercase and lowercase letters are considered distinct.

FIle Naming

Files and folders with the identical names but differing letter casing are treated the same in MacOS journaled. For instance, “TXT.img” and “txt.img” are recognized as being identical.

So, if you try to name two files with similar names by using a different combination of uppercase and lowercase letters it won’t be possible. And you will receive a warning that a file with those same initials already exists.

Whereas with Mac OS Case-Sensitive, Files and folders with similar names but different letter casing are considered different. So, you can create similar names of files using a different combination of uppercase and lowercase letters.

Compatibility with applications

The next difference you will notice between these two file formatting options is the compatibility. Both of these options are compatible with Macs but all applications may not support both of them.

With MacOS Journaled, you have the freedom to name the files in any way you want to so it is compatible with almost all Mac applications.

On the contrary, the Case Sensitive format may be less compatible with all applications. Additionally, certain older software programs that presume a case-insensitive file system might cause problems with it.

Default file system

Journaled was the default file system until High Sierra; after High Sierra the default file formatting system changed to APFS. Whereas the Case Sensitive formatting is not the default choice and if you wish to do it, you need to select it from the list.

Do keep in mind if you do not want issues and you have regular needs then going for the default system is always useful.

FIle Sharing with other operating system

If you are someone who keeps on sharing files between Mac and other operating systems then you need to be careful while selecting the file formatting system.

The MacOs Extended Journaled has the same file naming system as windows or other regular operating systems so sharing files between the devices won’t be of any problems.

However, with the Case Sensitive system you can have problems with sharing files with other operating systems. This is because most of the operating systems are case insensitive.

What Should You Choose Between Mac OS Journaled and Case Sensitive?

As you may have already got an idea that both of these file formatting systems are quite different, so suitability also varies between them. Thus, choosing the best option for you depends heavily on your needs and requirements.

If you are a regular Mac user who will be using Mac for all regular work and nothing fancy then MacOs Extended Journaled is for you. Also, if your Macbook is using High Sierra or earlier only then you can use Extended Journaled; otherwise you need to use APFS.

Additionally Extended Journaled is compatible with almost all Mac applications, older or new which makes it more suitable and user friendly for regular users.

On the other hand, if you are a Mac developer, programmer, game developer, web developer or any tech fields related to this then you can be benefitted by using Case Sensitive system.

As most of these  software related projects, such as when dealing with programming languages heavily rely on case-sensitive file naming.

Frequently Asked Question

If you do not choose the right disk formatting system, you can have a tough time using your Mac. So, if you still have some questions read our FAQs below to clear them out.

Can I still use MacOS extended file formatting on my Macbook?

After 2017, Apple introduced APFS which is more improved and faster than Extended OS and newer SSDs are more compatible with the APFS. However, while formatting disk you will still find options for using MacOS from the disk utility. Additionally, older macbook models before 2017 are still more compatible with the OS extended rather than APFS.

Should I use ExFAT or Mac OS Extended?

ExFAT and HFS+ based Mac OS Extended are both compatible with macOS. Due to its cross-platform flexibility, ExFAT is perfect for USB devices and SD cards, but Mac OS Extended is best for hard drives that are made specifically for Mac OS. But in newer Macs consider using APFS.

Is it possible to switch between file system formats after formatting?

It can be difficult to change the file system format after formatting a storage device. So, the only way to do this is you’ll need to reformat the disk using Disk utility once again. Do keep in mind, formatting the disk will erase all the data stored in that disk. So, keep a backup of your important files before formatting the disk.

Final Words

Deciding on disk formatting formats on your macbook can be confusing if you are doing it for the first time. In this type of scenario the best idea is to stick to the Apple recommended format.

Additionally, if you are not a developer or working with any programming software related tasks then Case Sensitive is not for you and you should stick to Extended Journaled.

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