Initializing and Partitioning your Hard Drive for your 68k Macintosh

I recently acquired a SCSI2SD adapter to replace a failing SCSI drive from the 1990s, so thought I’d document some of the options I’ve found for initializing and partitioning bootable drives for classic Macintosh systems.

1. Limitations when initializing/partitioning a drive under System 6.x and System 7.x.

  1. You can’t change the partitions on the drive you are currently booting from (which is why setting up your card as more than one “drive” when using SCSI2SD will make your life easier)
  2. HD SC Setup provided by Apple only works with apple drives, luckily a patched version of HD SC Setup was created that works with any drive.
  3. HFS has a limit of 65,535 files per logical disk (e.g. partition). A way around this is to use a tool like ShrinkWrap to create mountable disk images.
  4. System 4.1 to 6.08 can only support 2 GB partitions, System 7.5 introduced support for 4 GB partitions, and System 7.5.2 introduced support for 2 TB partitions for some systems (SeeĀ Apple KBase Article 8647)

2. Deciding what types and sizes of partitions you plan to create

If you plan to use the Apple IIe card you will want to create at least one (max two) 32MB (yes MB) partitions that you’ll later initialize as ProDos partitions to use with your Apple IIe card.

Otherwise, taking in to account the limitations above, and the “wasted space” if you have really large partitions filled with small files, it’s really up to you.

3. Options for getting your drive initialized and partitioned

There are two main methods for getting your drive initialized and partitioned:

  1. Connecting the drive you want to initialize and partition directly to your classic Macintosh system, then boot your system using one of the boot options I’ve previously listed (e.g. Floppy Drive, CD-ROM etc.) with the drive you want to initialize and partition attached as a secondary drive.
  2. Connect your drive to a modern system, create an image based on that drive, then initialize and partition the image file, then write the image file back on to your drive.

For the 2nd option, I’ve tested the following methods to initialize and partition my drives:

Emulators Windows Linux Mac OS
Using one of my initialized/partitioned images.YesYesYes
Using SoftMac to initialize and partition the image fileYesNoNo
Using MAME to initialize and partition the image fileYesYesYes
Using PCE / macplus to initialize and partition the image fileYesYes? (untested)
Using Cockatrice III???
Using Basilisk IINONONO
Using SheepShaverNONONO
Using Mini vMacNONONO

4. Initialize an image file

Assuming you’ve used one of my image files as your boot drive, or have a copy of the patched HD SC setup 7.3.5 on your image file:

  1. Under Setup and Repair folder you will find a copy of a patched version of HD SC setup 7.3.5 (Figure 1)
  2. Run HD SC setup 7.3.5 (Figure 2), SCSI Device 0 will be selected (Device 5 on MAME).
  3. Press the Drive button to select SCSI Device: 1 (or whichever Device you mounted your image under, likely Device 5 on MAME) (Figure 3)
  4. Press the initialize button to initialize the device, a warning message will appear (Figure 4), followed by a prompt to provide a name for the drive (I called mine 16GBSD)
  5. Press the partition button to partition your initialized drive.
  6. Wait, may take some time depending on the size of the image file (especially for MAME)
  7. Select custom (Figure 5)
  8. HD SC setup will show you the default partitions it set up when it initialized the drive (Figure 6).
  9. Remove/edit the partitions as you see fit.  If you plan to use an Apple IIe card I’d suggest setting up two 32Meg ProDOS partitions.

8 thoughts on “Initializing and Partitioning your Hard Drive for your 68k Macintosh

  1. Hello Steve,
    I’m trying to set up a SCSI2SD adapter, V5.1. I am using the patched version of HD SC Setup 7.3.5. and while it can find the drives, when I try to initialize, it acts like its starting to message says “initializing disk…verifying format” and “updating driver…in progress” then gives me an error message of ” the disk could not initialized. ” and “Unable to mount volume”.
    Any suggestions on what to try next?

  2. HI Steve, I have followed all your steps and when I put the SD in the SCSI2D adapter on the SE/30 I can only see SCSI 0 with your image. I click on Drive and it does not change. Also tried LIDO 7 with the same result. However, when plugging to SCSI2SD in my Mac and run SCSI-Util Load from the device I see that I have 2 devices set up Device 1 and Device 2., I have tried it several times and partitions work but not setting up a second Device any ideas?

    • I communicated with Matias directly, turned out he had swapped SD cards and hadn’t updated his SCSI2SD settings, once he did that everything worked.

  3. Hi Steve,

    I’ve an SE/30 and a Floppy Emu. I would like to partition my SE/30 drive (a non-original SCSI), format it so it’s clear of any exiting files, and then install a clean 7.5.3 to then upgrade to 7.5.5.

    I’ve tried using your HD20 image to boot the Mac and do everything from there (specially run the patched version of HD setup to format the non-Apple SCSI drive), but as soon as the computer tries to boot it gives an error and I just need to turn it off.

    Any advice on what do I need to do differently?

  4. Hi,

    I just want to say thank you for creating such a helpful and great website with all these instructions, they have been such an enormous help in reviving my Mac SE/30. It would have been totally impossible without your help.

    I have managed to use your disk image with system 7 and transferred it to an SD card and then run the OS on the SD card and a SCSI2SD on my SE/30. However I wanted to try transferring downloaded games and software to the disk image. So I got Softmac running on my PC, opened the disk image from your website and imported files to the disk image via the transfer program, all within softmac. Then I closed that all down and transferred the disk image that I had used in softmac on to an SD card and put it in to my SE/30. Everything works fine but none of the software that I transferred in via softmac is there? It would seem the disk image isn’t saving the changes that have occured within the emulator. What could be the cause of this? and how might I go about fixing this?

    Kind regards,


    • Hi William, when you “Transferred” the files, did you put them on the desktop or did you put them in the drive’s window? (click drive icon, window opens), I’d have to check, but if you put them on the mac desktop, you may have only created shortcuts to the files vs. copying them to the drive. The only other thing I can think of is you are somehow copying the unmodified file to your SD card instead of the one you edited. Check the date time stamp to make sure it was modified.

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