HFS Utilities

HFS is the “Hierarchical File System,” the native volume format used on modern Macintosh computers. hfsutils is the name of a comprehensive software package being developed to permit manipulation of HFS volumes from UNIX and other systems.

In addition to the original UNIX version, several ports enable use under DOS, Windows 95/NT, and OS/2.


The package contains a variety of tools originally developed for use under UNIX systems:

Support is included for manipulation of volumes of virtually any size and on any medium (floppy disk, SCSI disk, CD-ROM, Zip drive, image file, etc.) Partitioned media are also supported.

Support for Apple’s new Extended Format (HFS+) is currently planned, but not yet available.

The obsolete MFS volume format used by early Macintosh computers on 400K floppies is not supported. Furthermore, although Macintosh 800K floppies use the HFS volume format, many systems are physically incapable of reading the low-level format of these disks because of a hardware limitation. (Most PCs fall into this category and will not be able to read or write these disks.) An image of an 800K floppy will work fine, however, as should today’s common 1440K high-density floppies.

Use of the Tcl and Tk interfaces is optional; you may build only the command-line tools if desired.

Current Status

See the complete version history for current status information.

Author and Copyright

Robert Leslie is the author of all code distributed in the hfsutils package and retains the copyright thereof. The software is licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, Version 2, and is therefore freely redistributable. Alternate licensing terms may be negotiated by contacting the author.


Here are some comments people have shared about this software. This also serves as a list of Frequently Asked Questions, complete with answers.

You may wish to subscribe to the hfs-user mailing list. This list is for both general and technical discussion of HFS, as well as for announcements of new software releases.


hfsutils has been in widespread use since 1996, with reports of successful ports to many different operating systems. You are encouraged to use the software and report bugs to the author, but there is absolutely no warranty.

The most recent version of the software is available for FTP.

If you don’t have the Tcl or Tk libraries and want to build the hfsutils X interface or Tcl command-line tool, you will need to obtain and install the Tcl/Tk libraries first. Be sure you get the most recently patched versions of Tcl 7.6 and Tk 4.2; with other versions your mileage may vary.

Related Work

The following may also be of interest:

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