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

By Anders Smith

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Posted on #Clean up

Summary:

This article explains the meaning of other volumes in container on Mac and provides 7 methods to solve the problem “your disk is almost full” caused by large other volumes in container. Among these methods, using a Mac cleaner is the easiest and the most effective one. A professional Mac cleaner like Macube Cleaner offers various solutions basing on the needs of all users.

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. The problem is that when you get the warning "your disk is almost full" from the Mac, other volumes in container has already taken ten or even hundred gigabytes of your Mac storage space. Some users also notice that the size of other volumes in container keeps growing on their Macs, but they don't even know what other volumes in container means, 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 is 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 is Other Volumes in Container on Mac?

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

Although we know what other volumes in container is, 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 it is important for the system to run. That being said, there are ways to stop other volumes from expanding or reduce the space that other volumes currently used.

2. How to Remove Other Volumes in Container in Storage

There are 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.

Method 1 Using a Mac Cleaner

To get your storage from other volumes, the easiest and the most effective method is using a professional Mac cleaner. Here we’ll introduce the Mac cleaning expert - Macube Cleaner (opens new window). It is a great assistant when you are facing "your startup disk is almost full" warning while other volumes in container is eating up your space.

One of the powerful features of Macube Cleaner is Large & Old Files. It scans out the large or old files on your Mac and allows you to sort them by size or date, which can help you better decide what to delete and free up your Mac space ASAP.

Step 1. Download and launch Macube Cleaner.

Step 2. Choose Large & Old Files on the left column. Hit Scan.

Large Old Files

Step 3. Select the files you want to delete. You can use Sort By to quickly locate the files you want to delete. Click Clean to start cleaning.

Large Files 30 Days

Step 4. The cleanup will be completed within seconds!

Cleaning Result

The whole cleaning process, just like mentioned above, is both easy and effective; therefore, Macube Cleaner should be your first choice when you come across the problem “your disk is almost full”.

However, if you don’t like to download extra software to your Mac, you can also check the methods below.

Method 2 Create a New User Account

Create a new user account and then use the new account to sign in to your Mac. By signing in with the new account, other volumes in container in storage reduce.

How to create a new user account?

1.Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups.

2.Click on the lock icon and enter the passcode of the Mac when prompted.

3.Click Add [+] button under Login Options to add a new admin account.

Create New User Account on Mac

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

Method 3 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 turned it on, you can uncheck content caching to reduce the size of other volumes in container.

1.Go to System Preferences > Sharing > Content Caching.

2.Uncheck Content Caching or turn off Cache iCloud content totally.

Turn off iCloud Content Caching

Method 4 Uninstall Suspicious Third-party Apps

We may unconsciously download third-party apps on the internet by entering a malign web page or clicking the wrong button. These apps take up a certain part of Mac storage and lead to the problem “your disk is almost full”.

You can 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 gives 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

Method 5 Remove Extra APFS Volume

If you have read the methods above and still don’t know what to do, it is recommended to have a clear picture of what volumes your drive consists first. We can run this Terminal command: diskutil list.

After the window pops up, check if there are more than one Macintosh HD - Data volumes. If there is an extra Macintosh HD volume, it is very likely that the extra one has been eating out your space.

To delete this volume, follow the instructions below.

1.Open Disk Utility on Mac.

2.Select the APFS Volume you want to remove.

3.Click the Delete Volume button '—' in the toolbar.

Tip:

Remember to back up your data to avoid losing any important files.

Method 6 Erase Disk & Reinstall MacOS

There is also a way to solve this problem, or virtually every problem on Mac -erasing the disk and reinstalling macOS. This method will erase all the files in your disk, so remember to back up your data beforehand.

Follow the steps below to erase your disk on Mac:

1.Press and hold Command-R on Mac's startup to enter Recovery mode.

2.Select Disk Utility > Continue from the Utilities window.

3.Select Macintosh HD and click Erase.

4.Use Macintosh HD as the name.

5.Choose APFS/Mac OS Extended (Journaled) > Erase.

6.Clear all the volumes that may be left in the sidebar except the Macintosh HD volume you just erased.

7.Quit Disk Utility.

You will see the Utilities window once again. Click Reinstall macOS. When it’s done, the other volumes should be gone.

Method 7 Hardware Solutions

If none of the above methods works, the problem may exist in the hardware. Some users found other volumes in container stops growing together with the changes of the following two hardware.

1.Replace the old battery. This does the trick to those MacBook with the really old battery.

2.Unplug USB drives. A user found that without USB drivers connected to Mac, other volumes storage stops increasing. It is worth a shot.

3. Conclusion

To sum up, here we explain the meaning of other volumes in container on Mac, and then introduce 7 ways to free up Mac storage space, which would go a long way towards solving the problem “your disk is almost full”. Among these methods, using a Mac cleaner is the easiest and the most effective one. Unlike the other 6 methods which only focus one particular aspect, a professional Mac cleaner like Macube Cleaner (opens new window) offers various solutions basing on the needs of all users.

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Our Writer
Anders Smith, the chief editor of Macube team, is a big fan of Apple. He likes to share his experience and ideas through writing.