Last week, I picked up a super cheap Core 2 Duo iMac that is capable of running High Sierra for under $150. With a couple of extra sticks of RAM and an inexpensive SSD, the Mac will likely ease up my back and forth between work and home, so I don’t have to worry about leaving my MacBook Pro behind. But there was one hitch…
The SSD, a Samsung 840 Pro, would not show up in Disk Utility in the High Sierra USB boot drive. And opening up and fiddling with iMacs requires firm but patient hands. The less I was yanking that drive in and out, the better. What to do, right? Why wouldn’t it read in this newer machine? What mistake did I make?
Before I panicked though, I decided to the simplest task first. Open up the iMac, pull out the drive, toss it in an old USB hd exclosure I had, and plug it into my Mac Mini G4. And yeah, it showed up in Disk Utility there. Weird, right? I formatted it to HFS+, moved it back to the iMac, and was off and running.
Speaking of formatting, APFS, Apple’s new hard drive format, is here, initially only working on SSDs. High Sierra did not install correctly when I formatted the SSD in APFS at first – kept booting back to the USB drive – but when I formatted the SSD as HFS+ first, the installer reformatted the drive and the install worked. Apple has some kinks to work out, especially as the support doc ominously warns “you can’t opt out of the transition to APFS”.
With this new drive format though, it’s time to face the truth – newer Macs using APFS cannot be read by older Macs. Yes, a newer Mac using the standard can access older shares and hard drives, but this represents another one of those milestones that leave those of us with Macs on 10.5 or before a little bit farther behind. If you are running a mixed bunch of Macs, it may be that figuring out how to stay on HFS+ will sidestep this change. Alternately, keep using things like Dropbox to share files between your computers or have a separated shared file server of some kind.
The question is – will it be possible to make an APFS driver/app to access newer Macs? I wonder.