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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2 System
Ever since I found that Snow Leopard switched its file size calculations reported in the Finder from Base 2 to Base 10, I've been eagerly searching the Internet, trying to find a way to keep (or switch) between Base 10 and Base 2.

Download brkirch's switchDiskSizeBase from the author's website.

It's a command line program that works on OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and 10.7 (Lion). From various posts I've read about the software, you may need to periodically download a newer version that will work in the event a Software Update breaks the functionality. However, the author appears to actively support it. The software is free and open source, but the author also accepts donations.

After downloading and unzipping the file you'll have a folder with the executable, and the source code and license. To run the program in Terminal, cd to that folder and type:

sudo ./switchDiskSizeBase

Enter your administrator password. You'll need to reboot to see the change. To switch back, just run the program a second time.

Here's a link to the discussion forum I found this hint from. I add the hint here because I have literally searched two years for a solution like this, but was only able to find this solution today. I'm sure more people will find the hint here on Mac OS X Hints than haphazardly finding the solution in an obscure forum like I did.

[crarko adds: I tested this on 10.7.2, and it works as described.]
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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2 | 20 comments | Create New Account
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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2
Authored by: tomstratton on Jan 05, '12 07:45:10AM

The excellent Pathfinder (http://cocoatech.com/) has the ability to switch back and forth too...



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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2
Authored by: schutt on Jan 05, '12 11:40:52AM

An important fix for a persistent bug in OS X!



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Huh?
Authored by: slb on Jan 05, '12 02:06:17PM

How is this a "bug"? It was a change.



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Huh?
Authored by: schutt on Jan 05, '12 05:08:15PM
It is a change from the standard and convenient notation to the notation used by advertisers. Since the change isn't beneficial, and doesn't have an official way to reverse it, it is an error (bug).

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Huh?
Authored by: leamanc on Jan 05, '12 06:41:55PM

I, for one, found the change beneficial, if only for dealing with consulting clients who don't even understand mathematical bases, much less how computers work. When I install a 500 GB hard drive for them, I like for the Finder to show 500 GB as the capacity. It's just one less thing I have to try and explain to them, thus I get to avoid some blank stares or little insinuations that I am trying to rip them off somehow (e.g., I am charging them for more than they actually received).

For those of us who do understand how these things work, just make the adjustment in your head, or run this guy's script to change it to what you find "correct". But really, what is "correct"? As a wise man once said a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

"...many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." --Obi-Wan Kenobi, 4 ABY



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Huh?
Authored by: slb on Jan 06, '12 09:30:49AM

Agreed.
It's not a bug. It's an intentional change by Apple. Not a bug. While some may not welcome it - some do. Us correct terminology (previous poster)



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Huh?
Authored by: _Gekko_ on Jan 07, '12 06:08:13AM

not to start a discussion about this, but merely to point out some facts ...
'base-10' actually follows logic and international standards

1 meter = 1 m = 1 unit of meters
1 bit = 1 b = 1 unit of bits
1 Byte = 1 B = 1 unit of Bytes = 1 unit of 8 bits (most used, could also be 1 unit of 5 bits or whatever ...)

1 kilometer = 1 km = 1000 units of 1 meter
1 kilobit = 1 kb = 1000 units of 1 bit
1 kiloByte = 1 kB = 1000 units of 1 Byte

the word kilo is derived from greek 'chilioi' which means ... 1000
so kilo never should've been used for 1024 in the first place ...

Apple changes this, as will Ubuntu, which really is a good thing, because I believe it is of no use to p.ex. complain that MS IE does not comply to standards but on the other hand start defending the fact that standards should not be used when it involves calculating diskspace ...



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Huh?
Authored by: frgough on Jan 09, '12 12:11:46PM

"used by advertisers" suggests you don't understand the actual issue. The size reported by your computer AND by the hard drive manufacturers WAS EXACTLY THE SAME. Too many people, including technical types, have been confused by the fact that the two DIFFERENT units use the same name. It would be like saying advertisers were being misleading because they sold gold in 16 ounces per pound while a goldsmith sold it in 12 ounces per pound. All your complaint would demonstrate is that you don't know the difference between ounces Troy and ounces Avoirdupois. It's the same thing here with drive size pre Snow Leopard.



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Huh?
Authored by: Jaywalk3r on Jan 10, '12 09:47:06AM
The two different units do not have the same name, nor do they have the same abbreviation. According to IEEE 1541 standard (as well as similar standards), 1 kilobyte = 1 kB = 1000 bytes, 1 megabyte = 1 MB = 1000 kilobytes, 1 gigabyte = 1 GB = 1000 megabytes, etc., and 1 kibibyte = 1 KiB = 1024 bytes, 1 mebibyte = 1 MiB = 1024 kibibytes, 1 gibibyte = 1 GiB = 1024 mebibytes, etc. There is nothing wrong with using either base 10 or base 2 units in Finder, provided the correct unit abbreviation is given so users can easily recognize which base units are being used for measurements.

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Huh?
Authored by: everkleer80 on Jan 12, '12 08:23:42PM

That's interesting... I have never seen the different names, and I doubt many other people have either. I have seen the different abbreviations (ie. GiB vs. GB) but it never really dawned on me what each one meant. I'd be curious to know the percentage of computer software that actually uses the correct abbreviations/terms - I think I've only seen *iB in some bit torrent programs .. and maybe also in some Linux environments. I know Windows doesn't use it, as the 95,737,000,000 bytes free on my Windows machine are reported as 89.1 GB, and I'm pretty sure previous Mac OSes didn't (I only have Lion machines, but I verified this in the screenshot on the Disk Utility Wikipedia page.)

But regardless of what's correct, I agree that the base 10 reporting of sizes should be the standard. If a drive is advertised as 500 GB, I want my computer to report it as 500 GB.



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Huh?
Authored by: _Gekko_ on Jan 17, '12 11:00:07PM

The kibi,mebi etc stuff are quite recent units specifically created to tell the difference between the two.
Before their existence the difference could be shown by using kb or kB, but that didn't really work out very well ...



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Huh?
Authored by: Jaywalk3r on Jan 18, '12 01:08:15AM

The binary unit prefixes aren't terribly recent. They've been around for awhile (~15 years, IIRC) albeit not the centuries that the base ten unit prefixes have existed.



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Huh?
Authored by: osxpounder on Jan 06, '12 11:11:49AM

I'm grateful for this hint nonetheless.

This reminds me of one of my pet peeves in computing: beginning a list or array with 0.

I understand why we start with 0, in programming. I just don't like it.

---
- iCal has gotten really awesome lately.
Edited on Jan 06, '12 11:23:35AM by osxpounder



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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2
Authored by: peterhoneyman on Jan 06, '12 06:34:57AM

I skimmed the source code, but ... well ... can someone with a better foundation in Foundation explain how it works? TiA.



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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2
Authored by: arcticmac on Jan 06, '12 09:15:13AM

Basically it reads the copy of the foundation framework on your disk and looks for certain patterns, and then replaces a couple of carefully selected bytes. As to what exactly those bytes do, I'm actually not sure, though I'd sure be interested to know. They don't seem to be anything obvious like a divisor.



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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2
Authored by: peterhoneyman on Jan 06, '12 11:03:44AM
thanks. i read it again and ... i am still all "eek!"

i'm not gonna run this program, but i'm curious: does it take forever to run? it loops over every byte of a 10+ MB file (on my MBP).

(and

for (i = 1; i < (fileLen - 160); i++)
{
  while (i < (fileLen - 160) &amp;&amp; ... ) i++;
  if (i >= (fileLen - 160)) break;
  ...
}
is a mess. just sayin'!)

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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2
Authored by: arcticmac on Jan 06, '12 11:58:23PM

On a modern computer, looping over that many bytes doesn't take very long, especially when all you do at each one is to check and see if it matches one of four pre-defined values. If you think about it, it's actually only reading from each offset once (although I admit, I kinda thought it was going to double over the first time I read the code). It takes about a half a second to run the patch on my MacBook (which is ~4yrs old). (I modified the code so that it edits a _copy_ of the foundation framework that I made elsewhere so that I don't need to have it run rooted. makes me feel a little safer somehow, even though I know the difference is probably negligible.)

Closer inspection reveals that the change made (at least under 10.6) is to change a -24 to a 0, so that 1024+(-24) becomes 1024+0. Interesting, it looks like the framework has another way of accomplishing this itself, if a particular bit in a bitfield is either set or not set. I wonder if it might be possible to set that bitfield via a pref someplace instead of needing to patch the framework (patching system frameworks is a yucky solution!).

Edited on Jan 06, '12 11:59:44PM by arcticmac



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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2
Authored by: Gex2501 on Sep 12, '12 06:20:30PM

Now that MobileMe is no more, does anyone know where the author's website is gone or if they are still updating to work with Mountain Lion? I was using this for a while and I find myself wanting to go back again.



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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2
Authored by: Mr. Smith on Jun 12, '13 11:53:42PM

The author of switchDiskBaseSize, brkirch, has updated the program with a version 2.0 beta. Unfortunately, geeklog is flagging my comment as spam, so I can't post a direct link to it. I'll try to have kirkmc update the hint with the new link.

In the mean time, you can search for brkirch and switchdiskbasesize and you should be brought to his new wordpress-based website.



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Change Finder sizes between Base 10 and Base 2
Authored by: Gex2501 on Jun 19, '13 12:36:17AM
I managed to find the site a while back, guess I should update my reply/comment here.
http://brkirch.wordpress.com/switchdisksizebase/
Sorry, I don't know how to make it a clickable link...

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