Back in December of 2018 when APFS was brand-new in macOS 10.14 Mojave, The Rocket Yard featured an article showing the rather arduous method of reverting an APFS (Apple File System) drive to the older HFS+ format. One of the commenters on that original post pointed out a few months ago that it’s now possible to perform the APFS to HFS+ conversion without all of the steps, and that’s what this article will show you how to do.
The drive I’ll convert is a 2TB mobile USB-C hard disk. If we launch Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility, we see that the drive is currently set up with APFS:
Previously, there was no easy way to do the conversion other than to fire up Terminal and enter a bunch of arcane commands. If I were to try to erase this external volume, the only format that appears is APFS. What do we do?
Here’s the trick. See that “View” button in the upper left corner of the Disk Utility window (screenshot above)? Click it, and you have a choice of viewing only volumes (the default) or all devices. Select Show All Devices, and the left sidebar changes a bit:
We can now see the APFS container on the external drive volume. To reformat our drive as HFS+, we need to click on “Container disk3” (or whatever your APFS container is named) to select it, then click the Erase button in the Disk Utility toolbar. As you can see when you click the Format pop-up menu, there are many choices available other than APFS:
We’ll select Mac OS Extended (Journaled), which is the “old” HFS+ format, then click the Erase button. Looking at the container after the Erase is completed, we see that the drive is indeed using the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) HFS+ format.
Many thanks to commenter smayer97 for pointing out that the Disk Utility in macOS 10.15 Catalina provides the ability to easily reformat an APFS drive as HFS+.