What a mistake: case-sensitive HFS on my mac book

I got a new macbook (alu) and since I once happened to overwrite a file because the default file system for OS X is case-insensitive, I thought I would be smart in reformatting the hard-disk before installing anything and changing the partition to case-sensitive (use DiskUtility to do so just after booting from the Leopard cd).

Unfortunately, it proved to be a bad choice since many applications are not written for a case-sensitive filesystem (see Adobe Photoshop Elements, f.i.). That pissed me off! Probably an ordinary Mac user will have an happy life with a case-insensitive fs but since I have a linux background it seems very unnatural to me.

Nevermind, I tried to find a way to convert my fs to case-insensitive without having to reinstall everything. I first tried restoring with a TimeMachine backup, after having reformatted the disk case-insensitive but the backup restored the whole partition as case-sensitive.

The solution seemed to be to fully reinstall OS-X from scratch and when it prompts for restoring data from TimeMachine choose all options and do a restore (You can also do this though Migration Assistant).

Now I'm "happily" back to a case-insensitive filesystem and can install my Photoshop....sigh


  1. Hi. I am doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason. I am just how in the process of restoring a time machine backup. But after reding this post i know what to expect. A case sensitive file system... What a crappy world, eh? So that means that in... 1:25 i'll be re-installing OS X once more... (gotta verify that it still is a case sensitive fs).


  2. Hello again.

    I was so frustaded that I would have to re-install everything again, that I searched the internet for another solution. I found a commercial program that could do the trick: iPartition (http://www.coriolis-systems.com/). It can do lots of tricks, but the one I was after was of course the ability to change from a case sensitive file system to an insensitive one. Now, you can't change much on the file system on which you booted. But bundled with the program came a utility to create a boot DVD with the iPartition program on it. So after I restored the Time Machine backup with the case sensitive file system, I invested 32 euros in the program and 5 minutes later the system was in a case insensitive, photoshop friendly mode. Considering how much time I would have spent on yet another re-install, it was well worth the money. Plus, I now have a cool disk utility to play with.


  3. Thanks for your feedback.
    Actually...it took only 20 minuts to reinstall Leopard so it was not a big deal for me.
    Besides, be sure to have backup when playing with tools which change the partition table, a power loss can result with all your file system to be unreadable!
    Happy photoshopping!

  4. Hi,

    I just determined the same thing. After lots of monkeying around to get Leopard on my 3 machines, of which only one of them has a functional DVD drive, I found out that the Leopard installer itself is not happy with a case sensitive format. I made a bootable partition on an external Firewire drive to install from and first go it was case-sensitive. It booted, but the installer claimed it could not find what it was looking for. I suspected that was a case issue, so reformatted the partition case insensitive, asr'd the install DVD and had another go. That worked. I thought I was home free, but then I found out it was not possible to use a case-insensitive partition as a Time Machine drive for a case sensitive system. That killed my plan to use the same drive as a Time Machine backup for all my computers (one was fresh install, the others upgrade). So now I'm about to reinstall with case-insensitive and do a migration since I just got my set-up the way I Iike it before I figured this out.

    By the way, installing via Firewire Target mode onto a machine with a non-functional DVD is also a mistake. Making it case-sensitive just makes it worse. Target mode messes up the machine name, and the root level directories that should be hidden are visible, among other things. Live and learn!


  5. Joseph,

    You can install just fine via firewire target mode, but you have to use the 'installer' program to do it. Or, asr if you have a proper installation image.

    installer -pkg "/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg" -target "/Volumes/Macintosh HD" -verbose


  6. Besides, FileVault doesn't work on a case-sensitive hfs plus fs, too.

    A case-insensitive UNIX, interesting. :-(

  7. Well, I have a very similar problem here.
    I backuped my entire MAC via Time Machine, (case-sensitive)
    then i formatted back into into case-insensitive.

    But now I have the problem that i cant copy my apps like iphoto, itunes to my mac ... coz somewhere in the pack / sys is a file in the same name - the system cant distinguish now.

    What now??? I have tried several applications to find the duplicates
    but most software will find me ALL duplicate of a file (which i am not interested in) I just need to find the files which make problems at copying.

    - Files in the same location "Folder" whit the same name !!!

    Any ideas how to make his happen ???

  8. Hi Roberto.

    I found a workable if dodgy solution was to create an image using Disk Utility, then install Photoshop/CS on that. If you drag the Photoshop application to the dock, if the image is not mounted OSX will mount it for you automatically, so you don't even need to worry about mounting the image.


  9. FCK ADOBE !!
    Use GIMP instead...
    They dont have the right to choose if you can or cant use this or that partition, case sensitive or not !!

    Tey are the same bul**** as microsoft !


  10. I had almost the exact same problem. I don't even know how 10.5 and 10.6 got UNIX certified; I always kinda assumed a case-sensitive FS was a POSIX requirement. Or at least a moral one.

    I used Linux for 6 years and loved it; then, this summer, I bought a MacBook, and I love _it_, too. Case-insensitivity is the thing I hate the most about OS X (even more than the new Exposé). It's infuriating (not talking about Exposé).
    Apple really needs to address this issue in 10.7. I know it'll cause problem for Adobe, but I think they can handle it. And in any case, it demonstrates poor programming practice to use case-variant versions of the same name.


  11. Yeah, just gone through the same crap. Adobe sucks. I'm going to give iPartition a go.

  12. Same problem, but before cs5 I could put cs3 on a disk image, not now however.

    Why does anyone have to be controlled by a stupid app - get with the program Adobe, you guys are merely software app developers, stop trying to control our disk formats - totally crap approach - and totally costing me time and making them no more money from me. cs3 will reside on disk image for ever now, upgrade - no way.

  13. Microsoft is another company that is lazy when it comes to programming for case sensitive file systems. Their Remote Desktop Connection for Mac always creates a "users" directory instead of using Users, and their new Live Mesh app doesn't even launch. I posted to their forums about it years ago and the RDC Fix would be extremely simple, but they never bothered to do it.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Home Assistant in Docker on MacOs BigSur

The little yellow book of vaccinations

Installing Box Backup on a ReadyNas NV+ (sparc)