How to Repair a Disk on Mac OS X from Command Line

How to Repair a Disk on Mac OS X from Command Line

Mac OS X comes with an easy-to-use application, called Disk Utility, that allows users to verify and repair hard disks using a graphical user interface and it is recommended for most Mac users that are not comfortable using the terminal. However, this can also be performed using the command-line. This could come in handy in situations when you can't or don't want to use Disk Utility for some reason.

In this guide, I will show you how you can repair a disk on Mac OS X using the command-line.

View Connected Devices

The first thing you need to do is start Terminal (/Go/Utilities/Terminal). Once you have done that, you need to check the names of the volumes that are currently connected to your system. You can do that using two simple commands:

cd /Volumes - this will change the active folder under terminal to your hidden Volumes directory

Switched to Volumes DirectorySwitched to Volumes Directory

ls - this will list names of all the connected drives

Now, you terminal should look like this:

LS commandLS command

The following commands are written in their general form (can be written right after starting the terminal, without accessing the Volumes folder in order to view the connected devices). If you have performed the previous step to view the connected drives, then you can skip the /Volumes part of the commands that will be presented below.

Disk Verification

Now, it is time to verify your volume and determine if it needs to be repaired or not. In order to do that, you need to type the following command (make sure you replace [drive name] with the actual name of your volume)::

diskutil verifyVolume [drive name]

For example, if you want to test your Mac's hard disk, you just need to type:

diskutil verifyVolume /

Or, if you want to test, say, an external storage device that you named "Movies" and you are not in the Volumes folder in terminal your command should look like this:

diskutil verifyVolume /Volumes/Movies/

After some time (depending on the size of the tested volume), a message will be displayed that will tell you of the current state of your drive (see image)

After Disk VerificationAfter Disk Verification

As you can see, after I've tested my Mac's hard drive (named System), the message was "The volume System appears to be OK". If, instead of this message, the test returns a message like "The volume System was found corrupt and needs to be repaired", then it is time to start fixing the problem.

Disk Repair

After you determine the volume you need to repair, all you have to do is simply write this command (make sure you replace [drive name] with the actual name of your volume):

diskutil repairvolume /Volumes/[drive name]

Furthermore, if you want to repair your Mac's hard drive, then you can type

diskutil repairvolume /
Make sure you wait until the end of the process (you will receive the "Volume repair complete" message), no matter what, because, stopping it mid-way might damage the data on your drive.


As the message from the terminal window says, you have successfully repaired your drive using the command-line version of Disk Utility. Even if it is commonly considered hard to use by some Mac users, the command-line is a very helpful feature and, if you have followed the guide, you should have your volumes fully repaired. 

If you receive an error when trying to repair your drive using the command-line, then you might want to restart your Mac in recovery mode (using the Command-R key combination) and retype to repair command or simply use Disk Utility (might be easier for you using the GUI version).

If you keep having problems with your drive, then you should try the fsck approach (a more advanced command-line repair mode) or your drive might be physically damaged, in the latter case you should start creating backups of your data and get a new drive.

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