How to create a partition on your Time Machine external hard drive

Time Machine

Time Machine is extremely easy to use, and its flexibility makes it a great solution for keeping your Mac backed up safely. But with external drives being as large as they are, you may wish to use some of the space on your Time Machine drive for basic file storage.

There are many ways to go about this, but one of the best ways is to simply create a separate partition on your external drive. By doing this, you have a dedicated partition for file storage, and a dedicated partition for your Time Machine backups.

Although it’s possible to store files on your Time Machine partition, in my opinion, it’s a better practice to keep them separated. In this fourth entry into our Time Machine tutorial series, I’ll show you how simple it is to create a second partition on your Time Machine external drive.

Partitioning your Time Machine drive

Step 1: Open Finder and verify the location of your Backups.backupdb folder. This is the folder that contains your Time Machine backups.

Time Machine Finder

Step 2: Open Disk Utility and select your external disk.

Step 3: Click the Partition tab.

Partition Tab time machine disk utility

Step 4: Click the ‘+’ sign to add a partition.

Step 5: Use the drag handle in between the partitions to resize them. Ensure that you leave enough room for your Time Machine backups to grow. It’s usually recommended that you have 2-4 times the size of your Mac installation and all of its data.

Step 6: Give the partition a name to make it obvious that it’s for general purpose file storage.

Time Machine Partition created files

Step 7: Click Apply to create the partition.

Time Machine Finder After File Storage

Once the partition is created, you’ll now have two disks show up in Finder—your original disk, which contains the Time Machine backups folder, and your new file storage disk for storing data on your external drive.

Now you can enjoy the use of some of that expansive storage found on your external drive. If you set it up correctly, you can safely store files on the same drive that houses your Time Machine backups.

To learn more about Time Machine, make sure to also check out these other tutorials: