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Utility for performing data recovery and analysis of APFS partitions/containers.


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Drat (formerly apfs-tools)

Drat is a tool for analysing and recovering data from APFS (Apple File System) partitions. Its creation was inspired by a personal data loss incident and Jonathan Levin's closed-source fsleuth tool, which he demonstrated in this lecture.

The name "Drat" is a loose acronym for "Disaster Recovery APFS Tools", and a bad pun on how one might say "drat!" after discovering that their data is corrupted.

This software is currently in development, and is being implemented with reference to Apple's official APFS specification (PDF). Copies of various versions of this spec are included in the spec directory for archival purposes, particularly in case the online version of the document changes.

Currently, all of Drat's commands (except modify, which is currently disabled as it is not fit for use) operate in a read-only fashion, as they are intended to be used in situations involving data recovery or data forensics.

Running the software

If you're using an Intel machine that's running macOS or Linux, you can find binaries for versioned releases on the releases page.

Documentation for versioned releases and as generated from the main branch can be viewed online.

Compiling the software


  • GNU C Compiler (gcc) — Required because we use __attribute__((packed)).

  • GNU Make (make).

  • GNU Argp library (<argp.h>) — Part of the GNU C Library (glibc):

    • On Ubuntu, ensure that the package libc6-dev is installed.

    • On macOS, you can install just Argp via the Homebrew package argp-standalone. The Makefile will handle this configuration automatically. If you acquire Argp any other way, such as by installing glibc in its entirety, you may need to configure CFLAGS and LDFLAGS as appropriate.


  • Ensure that gcc is in your $PATH, or configure CC and LD as appropriate.

  • Run make from the project root (where this file resides). An out directory will be created in which the object files will be stored. The final binary drat will be stored in the project root.

  • Run make clean to remove the compiled binary (drat) and other output files (out directory).

Tested platforms

Compilation and execution has been tested on the following platforms:

  • macOS Catalina 10.15.7 (19H524) on an Intel x86-64 machine (MacBookPro9,2), using:

    • GCC 11.2.0 (Homebrew GCC 11.2.0)
    • GNU Make 3.81 (as included in Xcode Command Line Tools)
    • Homebrew package argp-standalone, version 1.3
  • Ubuntu 20.04.3 on an Intel x86-64 machine (Intel Core i5-4288U), using:

    • GCC 9.3.0
    • GNU Make 4.2.1
    • GNU C Library (glibc) 2.31

Generating the documentation

Sphinx is used to manage the documentation. This facilitates usage of Read the Docs, which hosts the documentation online for you to read easily, both for all versioned releases and as generated from the main branch.

We use a variant of Markdown called MyST that supports all of the features of reStructuredText.


Sphinx requires Python and its sphinx package. We also require the Read the Docs theme (sphinx_rtd_theme) and the MyST parser (myst-parser). If/when you have Python installed, you can install the required packages all at once with the following: pip install sphinx sphinx_rtd_theme myst-parser.


  • From the project root (the directory where this file resides):

    • Run make docs to generate HTML documentation in docs/_build/html. Open docs/_build/html/index.html in your browser to view the generated documentation.

    • Run make clean-docs to remove the generated documentation (docs/_build directory).

  • From the docs directory:

    • Run make <format> to generate the documentation in a format other than HTML, where <format> is any of the formats listed in the output of make help. You may need to install other software to generate documentation in these other formats.

    • Run make clean to remove the generated documentation.


Utility for performing data recovery and analysis of APFS partitions/containers.