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How to Delete Other Volumes in a Container on Mac: 6 Best Ways

Free up space by removing extra volumes on Mac safely.

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Last updated: December 18, 2023

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TL;DR

To delete Other Volumes in a container on Mac, follow one of these methods:

  1. Identify unnecessary volumes using Finder.
  2. Use the diskutil list command in Terminal for a detailed view of volumes.
  3. Open Disk Utility, select the unnecessary volume and use the Erase function to delete it.
  4. Create a new user account via System Settings for better file management.
  5. As a last resort, erase your hard drive and reinstall macOS.

I’ve run into the confusing ‘Other Volumes in a Container’ issue and know how tricky it can be to fix. At first, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I started looking into it and experimenting. After some trial and error, I found some great fixes. I’ve put them all in this guide, which covers everything from simple settings adjustments to a few more advanced steps.

What Is Other Volumes in Container Mac?

On a Mac, ‘Other Volumes in Container’ is a hidden part of your storage. It’s part of the APFS (Apple File System) that started with macOS High Sierra. In this system, your Mac’s single hard drive is split into several ‘containers’ and each container can hold multiple ‘volumes’.

These volumes can include:

  • Your main system volume where macOS is installed
  • A volume for user data
  • Hidden volumes used by the system for snapshots for backup, cache files, or system updates

Other Volumes in Container on your Mac are important for your Mac to work right, but they can take up a lot of space. You’ll notice this especially when your startup disk is full on Mac.

How to Delete Other Volumes in a Container on Mac

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Other Volumes in a Container on Mac aren’t just random files, they’re important for how your Mac works. But when they start taking up too much space, it’s time to clean them up. I’m going to show you how to do this safely, so you don’t mess up your Mac.

Before deleting other volumes in a container, you must understand that it can have serious implications if not done correctly. So, backup your Mac data and know what each volume contains.

1. Identify Unnecessary Volumes

The first step in managing ‘Other Volumes in a Container’ on your Mac is to figure out which volumes are not essential. Not all volumes under this category are safe to delete, as some are critical for the system’s operation.

It’s important to carefully check what each volume contains before deciding to remove it. Some might be old backups or data from previous system installations that are no longer needed. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Open the Finder application.
click finder in your dock
  1. Click Go in the menu bar and select Computer.
click go in the menu bar and select computer
  1. Look for any volumes that you don’t recognize or don’t need.
look for any volumes that you don t recognize or don t need
  1. Once you’ve identified the unnecessary volumes, note their names and sizes.

2. View Volumes Using Terminal

To get a detailed look at the volumes, I use the Terminal app on my Mac. It’s a powerful tool that lets me see all the volumes, including the hidden ones. By looking at this list, I can better understand what’s taking up space and figure out which volumes might be unnecessary.

Using Terminal requires technical proficiency, as incorrect commands can have significant consequences.

Follow these steps to view volumes on your Mac using Terminal:

  1. Launch Terminal from Finder > Applications > Utilities.
launch terminal from utilities
  1. Type the following command and press Enter:
diskutil list
type diskutil list and press return
  1. Read the output under APFS Container Scheme.
read the output under apfs container scheme
  1. If you see an unusually large Other Volumes entry or notice an odd one, you can take further steps to fix the issue. 

Back up your Mac data and understand the purpose of the entry before deleting it.

3. Use Disk Utility to Delete Volumes

After identifying which volumes are unnecessary, I use Disk Utility to delete them. This tool is built into macOS and is pretty user-friendly.

Double-check that you’re erasing the correct volume, as this action can’t be undone.

Now, follow these steps to delete volumes using Disk Utility:

  1. Open Disk Utility by searching for it in Spotlight or going to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
type disk utility in spotlight search
  1. Select the Container that contains the unnecessary volume.
select the container that contains the unnecessary volume
  1. Select the volume you want to delete and click the Erase button in the toolbar.
click the erase button at the top of the window
  1. Confirm that you want to delete the volume by clicking Erase again.
confirm you want to delete the volume by clicking erase on the pop up
  1. Once you’ve deleted the unnecessary volumes, you should see increased available storage space on your Mac.

4. Turn Off Content Caching

Content caching on your Mac saves updates locally, so you don’t have to download them from the internet again for other devices. But it can take up a lot of space on your Mac. You can stop content caching to prevent it from consuming excessive space on your Mac.

To turn off content caching on Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Sharing.
click general and select sharing
  1. In the Sharing settings, toggle off Content Caching.
toggle off content caching in sharing
  1. After toggling it off, close the System Settings window, and your changes will be saved automatically.

This will disable the content caching service on your Mac, and it will no longer store local copies of certain content to speed up downloading for other devices in your network.

5. Create a New User Account in macOS

Sometimes, the issue with ‘Other Volumes in a Container’ is due to user-specific settings or files. In such cases, creating a new user account on your Mac can help. By setting up a new account and logging into it, you can check if the issue persists in the new user account.

Below, I’ve shared the steps to create a new user account on Mac:

  1. Go to Apple menu > System Settings > Users & Groups.
click users and groups in system settings
  1. Tap the Add User button in the right corner.
click add user in user and groups
  1. Enter your administrator’s ID and Password.
enter your admin id and password in user and groups pop up and click unlock
  1. Set the new user to Administrator.
set the user to administrator
  1. Fill in the details and click Create User.
fill in the details and click create user
  1. If you suspect content caching is causing the issue, turn it off. To do this, go to System Settings > General > Sharing and toggle off the Content Caching switch.
toggle off content caching in sharing

6. Reinstall macOS to Delete Other Volume

If none of the methods mentioned above work, you might have to consider a more drastic step: erasing your hard drive and reinstalling macOS to fix the ‘Other Volumes in Container’ space issue.

Erasing your drive to reinstall macOS will delete all the data on your hard drive. So, it’s essential to back up all important files and documents before proceeding.

Here’s how to reinstall macOS on your Mac:

  1. Use Time Machine to back up your data and ensure you don’t lose any important files.
  2. Boot your Mac into Recovery Mode by pressing and holding the Command ⌘ + R keys on startup.
macbook air command r keys
  1. From the Utilities window, select Disk Utility and click Continue.
select disk utility from the list and click continue
  1. Click the view icon and select Show All Devices to see all volumes on your device.
click the view icon and select show all devices
  1. Select your system volume from the sidebar of Disk Utility and click the Erase button in the top bar.
select system volume from sidebar of disk utility and click erase button in the top bar
  1. Choose the APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format. Use Macintosh HD as the name for the volume and click Erase to delete the volume and remove all data.
use macintosh hd as the name for volume and click erase
  1. Control-click any old volumes in the Container that you want to delete and select Delete APFS Volume to remove them, keeping only the newly erased Macintosh HD volume.
  2. Quit Disk Utility and return to the Utilities window.
  3. Click Reinstall macOS and follow the prompts to reinstall the operating system.
click reinstall macos in macos utilities
  1. Wait until the installation is complete. Then, set up your Mac and check if the issue is resolved before transferring or migrating any data.

Why Delete Other Volumes in Container on Mac?

It’s typically unnecessary to delete Other Volumes in a Container on Mac. Not all volumes should be deleted, as some are critical for your Mac’s operation. However, you may need to delete ‘Other Volumes in a Container’ on a Mac for a few reasons:

  • 💾 Free Up Space: These volumes can sometimes take up significant storage space. Deleting them can free up space on your Mac, especially useful if your startup disk is nearly full.
  • 🚀 Improve Performance: Too many volumes or excessive data in them can potentially slow down your Mac. Clearing them out can help in maintaining or improving system performance.
  • 🧹 Clean Up After Updates: After system updates, your Mac might retain older system data in these volumes. Removing them can help keep your system clean and organized.
  • 🔧 Solve System Issues: In some cases, these volumes might contain corrupted data leading to system issues. Deleting them can help in resolving such problems.
  • 🔒 Reduce Security Risks: Unnecessary volumes can pose a security risk if they contain sensitive or outdated data. By deleting these volumes, you minimize the risk of this data falling into the wrong hands.

7 Quick Tips for Managing Other Volumes

Dealing with ‘Other Volumes in a Container’ on my Mac has taught me a few things about keeping things tidy and running smoothly. Here are some of my tried and true tips for managing Other Volumes on your Mac:

  1. 🔎 Regularly Check Your Volumes: It’s a good habit to look over your Mac’s storage now and then. Sometimes, I find old stuff that’s just taking up space and can be removed to free up some room.
  2. 💾 Always Back Up: Before you delete or change anything, make sure to back up your important files. It’s a simple step, but it can save you from a lot of trouble if something goes wrong.
  3. 🛠️ Use the Built-in Tools: The Disk Utility in macOS is pretty useful for managing your storage. It’s easy to use and does a good job of letting you see what’s taking up space, and it can help you add, delete, or resize volumes as needed.
  4. 📅 Keep Your Mac Up-to-Date: Updating your macOS to the latest version is a good practice. It not only keeps your Mac secure but can also sort out some storage-related issues automatically.
  5. 🚫 Don’t Overdo Volumes: I used to create lots of volumes for different things, but it ended up being more confusing than helpful. Now, I only create new volumes when I really need them.
  6. ☁️ Consider Cloud Storage: Using iCloud or similar services for files you don’t use often can help keep your Mac’s storage from getting too full.
  7. 🚀 Optimize Your Volumes: Over time, your disk volumes can become fragmented, leading to decreased performance. Defragment your volumes regularly to improve performance.

Delete Other Volumes in Container Mac

Deleting Other Volumes in a container on your Mac requires careful consideration, but it can free up valuable storage space on your Mac. If you find this method risky, there are other ways to save storage space. Some of these ways are as follows:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it safe to delete the Recovery HD volume?

    No, it is not safe to delete the Recovery HD volume because it houses essential system files required for repairing or restoring your Mac. Removing it may cause irreversible damage to your device.

  2. Can a deleted volume be retrieved?

    No, a deleted volume cannot be retrieved. Once you have deleted a volume, it is permanently removed from your system. So, backing up important data before deleting any volumes is crucial. By doing so, you can protect your data and avoid any data loss.

  3. How do I defragment volumes on my Mac?

    You can defragment volumes on your Mac with its built-in Disk Utility tool. To do so, navigate to the Finder > Go > Utilities > Disk Utility. Select the volume you wish to defragment, click the First Aid tab, and click Run to start the defragment process for the selected volume.

  4. Why should I delete Other Volumes?

    You should delete Other Volumes in a Container on Mac to reclaim valuable storage space and improve its performance. It’s important to review your volumes regularly and only delete unnecessary ones.

  5. What are APFS containers and their volumes in a standard macOS startup?

    An APFS Container is similar to a partition in other file systems. In other words, a Container is a physical disk that can contain multiple virtual volumes sharing the same storage space. A standard macOS startup APFS container includes Macintosh HD, Preboot, Recovery, and VM.

  6. Can I entirely remove Other Volumes in the Container?

    No, you cannot entirely remove Other Volumes in the Container. The Preboot, Recovery, and VM volumes cannot be removed as they are essential for macOS to operate correctly.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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