How to Delete Other Volumes in a Container on Mac

Volumes in a Container on Mac
Volumes in a Container on Mac

Like most computer devices, when used continuously, your Mac fills up with all types of junk and other files. This clutter is responsible for reduced storage on your Mac, so you must find ways to purge it.

One of the best ways to clear storage and get rid of this clutter is to identify unnecessary items on your device that serve no purpose. You may sometimes come across a hidden part of your storage, namely Other Volumes in Container, when you click About This Mac.

There’s no explainable clue as to the origins of these files on your MacBook. However, this hidden storage is important for your Mac to work right.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you more about other volumes and how to delete them to free up disk space on your Mac.

What are other volumes in a container on Mac?

On your Mac, there’s a hidden part of storage, namely Other Volumes in a Container, that appears as a message in the Storage tab of About this Mac.

You’ll see a distribution of storage with containers such as Apps, macOS, and System Data alongside a portion of the gray box saying Other Volumes in Container. Most files that consume hard disk space are domiciled here.

Apple File System for macOS (APFS) is designed to apportion the available disk space on demand. Any available free space in a single APFS container can be shared or allocated to any individual volumes as needed.

In this case, those ‘other volumes’ in a container refer to the recovery, preboot, and virtual volumes. The recovery volume is used to restore the Mac from a Backup, while the preboot volume helps during a boot process to Macintosh HD.

Virtual volumes help you access a virtual drive. It usually takes up most of the storage space in the Other Volumes.

You can check other volumes in a container on your Mac in various ways. First, follow the usual simple process:

  1. Selecting the Apple menu.
  1. Click About this Mac.
  1. Choose the Storage.

 Here, you can see all the space occupied by the other volumes. Alternatively:

  1. Open Spotlight by pressing the Cmd + Space keys.
  1. Go to Terminal (Type in Terminal and hit Enter).
  2. Enter the Command: diskutil list and proceed to click Return.

You’ll see how much memory and disk space other volumes in a container take up on your drive.

Other volumes aren’t just random files you can get rid of whenever you want. They’re important files that affect how your Mac works. However, if you see the message in other volumes in container when viewing your storage, it’s likely they’ve taken much more space.

How to remove other volumes in a container on your Mac

If you’ve reviewed the other volumes in a container partition on your Mac and identified a huge entry, then it’s only viable that you delete it. But before moving forward, ensure that you have a clear idea of what each volume contains.

Also, back up your data to avoid any serious implications if not done correctly. Once ready, follow the tips and steps outlined below to delete other volumes in a container and free up disk space on your Mac.

  1. Create a new user account

Some Mac users have successfully resolved storage allocation issues by creating a new user account. It’s a great way to get rid of the other volumes in a container on Mac if you lack an obvious entry to delete.

By creating a new user account, you get to resolve some of the glitches brought by the hidden storage in the other volumes on your Mac. To begin the process of creating a new user account on your Mac, follow these simple steps:

  1. Access System Preferences.
  1. Go to Users & Groups.
  1. Unlock the Security padlock and click the Plus (+) button.
  2. Set your account as an Administrator, provide the necessary details, and create the user.

After creating the new account, log out of the current user and sign in to the newly created account. Check whether the Other Volumes in Container problem persists. If the issue remains, consider restarting your Mac to reevaluate storage allocation.

  1. Turn off content caching

Content caching is designed to expedite installations by storing updates and iCloud content. You need a content cache for downloading to be faster on your Mac, as it locally stores and saves previously downloaded content.

This content is stored in a cache on a Mac. Other devices can retrieve it from iCloud without downloading it from the internet. However, content caching inadvertently occupies significant disk space. It may also increase the size of Macintosh HD and other volumes.

To delete other volumes in a container on your Mac, you should consider disabling Content Caching. Here are simple steps to follow:

  1. Go to the Apple menu.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  1. Click on Sharing and uncheck the Content Caching option.

After making this adjustment, reboot your Mac to ensure the caching service is disabled, preventing unnecessary storage usage by cached data.

  1. Erase the disk and reinstall macOS

You may only need to erase your disk if you’re giving away your MacBook for good. However, as a last resort for persistent storage issues, erasing the Hard Drive and reinstalling the operating system can often resolve the problem.

When you reinstall macOS in recovery mode, you’ll have the option to erase your disk before reinstalling. But first, start by backing up your data using Time Machine or another preferred method. Afterward, follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Press and hold the Cmd + R keys on startup to boot your Mac into recovery mode. This varies depending on your Mac model.
  2. Go to Disk Utility, and select Show All Devices from the view icon.
  3. Erase your system volume (typically Macintosh HD), ensuring the format is set to APFS.
  4. Remove any unnecessary volumes within the container by Control-clicking and selecting Delete APFS Volume.
  5. Close Disk Utility and proceed with the macOS reinstallation.

Once the installation is completed, verify the resolution of the storage issue before transferring or migrating any data.

  1. Delete APFS container/partitions

Sometimes, deleting other volumes in a container on Mac may require you to delete APFS containers, particularly Macintosh HD or external drives. You need to approach this carefully due to their significance in storing system data.

If you tamper with any of these files, then your Mac will end up unbootable. Below is a detailed breakdown of the processes you should follow to delete an APFS container/partition on Macintosh and external drives:

How to delete APFS container on Macintosh HD: 

  1. Go to the Apple Menu.
  2. Select Restart on your Mac.
  3. While restarting, press Command + R.
  4. Once in Recovery Mode, navigate to Utilities on the upper menu.
  5. Choose Terminal from the drop-down window.
  6. Input the command diskutillist and press Return to display all mounted drives.

Proceed to type diskutil apfs deleteContainer disk0s2. Replace disk0s2 with the identifier of the existing APFS container.

How to delete APFS container on external drives

  1. Go to Applications.
  1. Click Utilities and select Disk Utility.
  1. Choose View in the left menu and select Show All Devices.
  1. Right-click the APFS container in the left panel and choose Eject from the menu.
  1. After ejecting the APFS container, launch Terminal (Application > Utilities > Terminal).
  2. Enter the command diskutil list to display all disk information and identify the identifier for your APFS container.

Proceed to execute diskutil apfs deleteContainer disk2s3 command. Replace disk2s3 with the correct device identifier.

Always take caution and back up crucial data before initiating any deletions, especially when dealing with system-critical APFS files.

  1. Use a reliable Mac cleaning software

Besides all the steps outlined above, you can also invest in a reliable third-party Mac cleaning software as an alternative solution for resolving the Other Volumes in Container issue.

Most of the software solutions available offer automated cleanup features that efficiently remove clutter and help you free disk space on your Mac.

They identify and remove unnecessary files, streamlining the process and saving you the hassle of manual identification.

Remember that deleting Other Volumes in Container on Mac has consequences that could impact the stability and functionality of the macOS. At most, this action could trigger system crashes and cause other applications to malfunction in the long run.

It also poses a greater risk of data loss. For example, missing files are common when you improperly delete other volumes in a container on your Mac.

Final thoughts

Following these detailed steps, you can systematically address storage issues concerning Other Volumes, potentially reclaiming valuable space on their Macs. The process may vary slightly depending on the macOS version and system configurations.

So, it’s advisable to proceed cautiously and ensure proper backups before making significant changes to your system.