What Are Other Volumes in Container on Mac & How to Delete Them?

by Carrie Murray, Monday, November 12, 2018

After upgrading to macOS 10.13 High Sierra, you may notice that there is a category named "Other Volumes in Container" in Storage and "Other Volume" in Disk Utility on your Mac. And the problem is that when you are getting the warning "your disk is almost full" from the Mac, other volumes in container are taking ten or even hundred gigabytes of your Mac storage space. Some users also noticed that the size of other volumes in container keeps growing on their Macs. And the worse part is that you don't even know what other volumes in container mean, let alone how to delete other volumes in container.

So in this post, we are going to explain to you what other volumes in container are on Mac and how to get rid of other volumes to reclaim your Mac storage.

Other Volumes in Container

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# 1. What Are Other Volumes in Container?

In APFS, the new file system that Apple introduced to macOS High Sierra and later, a container is similar to a partition in other file systems. A physical disk could have multiple containers and a container includes multiple virtual volumes, which all share the storage space of the container. For example, a standard macOS startup APFS container includes volumes as follow:

  • Macintosh HD: the volume with macOS software system installed, which usually shown in Disk Utility as Macintosh HD.
  • Preboot: the volume that manages boot, which is created during macOS High Sierra update to support booting to Macintosh HD. It is usually hidden.
  • Recovery: the volume that contains recovery system of your Mac, which you can boot into by holding CMD + R during startup.
  • VM (Virtual Machine): the volume that supplements your RAM to store files like sleepimage, swapfile, which is too large for RAM to run. So VM volume usually takes up most of the storage space.

Other volumes in container mean the last three volumes, Preboot, Recovery, VM in APFS container. The other volumes cannot be removed because they are needed for macOS to function properly.

Although we know what other volumes in container are, it doesn't mean that we can easily get rid of other volumes in container. In fact, we cannot completely delete other volumes in container on Mac because they are important for the system to run. However, there are ways to stop other volumes from increasing or reduce the space that other volumes using.

# 2. Thoroughly Clear Your Mac to Release Memeory Space

To get your storage from other volumes, you can use FonePaw MacMaster (opens new window). FonePaw MacMaster is an application that can clear caches, logs, iOS backups, iOS update files, mail attachments, apps, and app data, duplicate photos and files, large and old files, browsing history, etc. on Mac to get more free space. It is a useful application when you are facing "your startup disk is almost full" warning while other volumes in container is eating up your space. Just let the application scan through your Mac and find out files or application that are taking up most of your space. Then you just have to click Clean to get rid of them.

Clean Up Mac with MacMaster

# 3. How to Remove Other Volumes in Container in Storage

There are also some fixes shared by Mac users who have successfully regained storage space from other volumes in container. Hopefully one of them may work on your case.

Create a new user account

Create a new user account and then use the new account to sign in to your Mac. It is reported that by signing in with the new account, other volumes in container in storage reduce. To create a new user account:

  • Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups.
  • Click on the lock icon and enter the passcode of the Mac when prompted.
  • Click Add [+] button under Login Options to add a new admin account.

Create New User Account on Mac

Then log into the Mac with a new account and check if other volumes are taking up lots of space.

Uninstall suspicious third-party apps

Go to Activity Monitor and check on the Memory tab. If there is any process that is using extraordinarily huge space of your Mac storage, the app that is running the process could be the culprit. So kill the process and then check if Other Volumes in Container is still taking up lots of space. If other volumes give back your space, then go on and completely uninstall the app. By completely uninstalling an app, it doesn't mean simply dragging the app to Trash. You need to delete the app as well as its data. Read more: How to completely uninstall app (opens new window).

End Process in Activity Monitor

Turn off content caching for "Cache iCloud content"

iCloud content caching is a new feature in macOS High Sierra to speed up software updates on Macs and more. If you have it turned on, you can uncheck content caching to reduce the size of other volumes in container.

  • Go to System Preferences > Sharing > Content Caching.
  • Uncheck Content Cacheing or turn off Cache iCloud content totally.

Turn off iCloud Content Caching

Hardware solutions

It sounds irrelevant but some users found other volumes stop growing with the following hardware.

  • Replace the old battery. This does the trick to those MacBook with the really old battery.
  • Unplug USB drives. A user found that without USB drivers connected to Mac, other volumes storage stop increasing. However, the trick didn't work for other users. But it is worth a shot.

If none of the above solutions work, you can try to erase the startup disk in Recovery Mode and reinstall the macOS. Or you can try a simple way - use FonePaw MacMaster (opens new window) to give your Mac a thorough cleanup to get more free space.

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