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Every Mac released since 2011 has a built-in Recovery partition. This is a separate section of your hard drive that you can boot into if you need to repair or reinstall the operating system on your Mac.
There are some situations where you may want to delete the Recovery partition from your Mac, such as reclaiming the storage it takes up. You shouldn’t do this lightly, though, since it’s a valuable tool for fixing all kinds of problems.
That said, here’s how to delete your Mac’s Recovery partition if you’re sure you want to. We’ll also cover how to restore it again afterward.
What Is the Recovery Partition?
When starting up your Mac, hold Cmd + R to boot into the Recovery partition. If that doesn’t work, you can hold Option + Cmd + R to boot Recovery mode over the internet instead. When there’s a problem with macOS, this is the place to fix it.
The Mac Recovery partition gives you four troubleshooting options:
- Restore From Time Machine Backup
- Reinstall macOS
- Get Help Online
- Disk Utility
These are fairly self-explanatory, although the best tool to use at any time depends on the particular problem you’re experiencing with your Mac.
Extra options are also available from the Utilities dropdown in the menu bar:
- Firmware Password Utility
- Network Utility
You often need to boot into the Recovery partition to make changes to your Mac’s system drive, making it a crucial troubleshooting tool for any Mac user.
How to Delete the Recovery Partition on Your Mac
If you have a spare USB stick and want to reclaim around 650MB of disk space on your Mac, create a bootable macOS installer to replace your Recovery partition. This way, you can still repair macOS if anything goes wrong with your system drive.
Removing the Recovery partition is a tricky procedure that can easily erase all your data. Time Machine can’t help you recover your Mac’s Recovery partition. So we recommend you use software like Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your entire hard disk instead.
Even after you do this, there’s a good chance that macOS will restore the Recovery partition on your Mac the next time you install an update anyway. So unless you don’t plan to update macOS ever again, you might need to repeatedly delete your partition.
Find Out if Your Mac Uses Core Storage
Apple introduced Core Storage as part of the technology behind its Fusion Drive. It’s a little trickier to remove the Recovery partition if your Mac uses Core Storage, and you need to use a different method to do so.
Before going any further, find out if your system drive uses Core Storage. Open Terminal and run the following command:
This lists all the drives and partitions on your Mac. Find your Mac’s system drive, usually called Macintosh HD, and check the storage Type it’s listed as.
In the example above, the type is APFS Volume, but if your type is Apple_CoreStorage you should use the second set of instructions below.
Option 1: Delete the Recovery Partition With Terminal
If your Mac doesn’t use Core Storage, the easiest way to delete your Recovery partition is using the Terminal. To get started, find your Recovery identifier by running the following command a second time:
Once again, this lists all the disks and partitions connected to your Mac. Find the Recovery partition and take note of its Identifier. Also, make a separate note of the identifier for your system drive, which is usually called Macintosh HD.
In the example above, the Recovery partition uses the identifier
disk1s3. Meanwhile, the Macintosh HD system drive uses the identifier
disk1s1. Your Mac may be different.
Now, use the Terminal to delete your Mac’s Recovery partition. Run the following command, replacing the Recovery identifier where noted:
diskutil eraseVolume APFS Blank [RECOVERY IDENTIFIER]
If this command doesn’t work, you may need to change the Type from
JHFS+ to match your drive.
This command deletes the Recovery partition and replaces it with blank space. For the next step, you need to combine the blank space with your system drive. Run this last command in Terminal, replacing the Recovery and system identifiers where noted:
diskutil mergePartitions APFS "Macintosh HD" [SYSTEM IDENTIFIER] [RECOVERY IDENTIFIER]
This command should merge both partitions while preserving all the data on your system disk. You’ve successfully deleted the Recovery partition from your Mac.
Option 2: Clone Core Storage to an External Drive
It’s difficult to edit Core Storage partitions safely, even with the power of the Terminal behind you. You could easily wind up erasing your entire Mac, forcing you to restore everything from a backup.
There is a solution, but it requires the use of Carbon Copy Cloner. You also need another spare external drive with enough storage to clone your Mac’s system drive. If you haven’t already, install Carbon Copy Cloner on your Mac. The software offers a free trial you can use for this.
Clone Your Mac’s System Drive
Connect your external drive and open Disk Utility. Select your external drive from the sidebar and click Erase. Name the drive, set the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and set the scheme to GUID Partition Map.
Click Erase to erase and reformat the external drive.
Now, open Carbon Copy Cloner and go to File > New Task. Select your Mac’s system drive as the Source and select your external drive as the Destination. When ready, click Clone to start cloning data to your external drive.
This might take a while, depending on the size of your system.
Boot Into Your External Drive
When it’s complete, reboot your Mac and hold Option while it starts up again. You should get the option to boot your Mac from the external drive. Select it with the arrow keys and hit Enter to boot.
Since you cloned your Mac’s system drive, everything should look the same as it normally does. The only difference is that you’re now running macOS from your external drive.
Open Finder and navigate to the Computer folder, then eject your Mac’s system drive (usually called Macintosh HD).
Delete the Recovery Partition
For the next step, open Disk Utility and select View > Show All Devices. Select the parent drive for your Mac’s internal storage—the one that holds your Recovery partition—and click Erase. Once again, name your drive and set the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with a GUID Partition Map scheme.
After erasing your Mac’s system drive—and removing your Recovery partition—use Carbon Copy Cloner to put all your data back on it. This time, set your external drive as the Source and your newly erased Mac system drive as the Destination.
When Carbon Copy Cloner asks if you want to include a Recovery Partition, select Cancel. When it finishes cloning the data back to your Mac, you won’t have a Recovery partition anymore.
How to Restore Your Mac’s Recovery Partition
One of the easiest ways to restore the Recovery partition on your Mac is to update macOS. Go to Apple menu > About This Mac > Software Update to download and install new updates.
Unfortunately, that means that even when you don’t want it to, the Recovery partition might come back every time you update your Mac. If that happens, repeat the steps above to delete it again.
Of course, if you chose to replace macOS with Linux, you’ve got nothing to worry about with macOS updates.
If you need to restore your Recovery partition but can’t install a new macOS update, use a USB macOS installer to reinstall all the software on your Mac. Alternatively, use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your drive, but choose to Create Recovery Volume when prompted.
Find Better Ways to Create More Mac Storage
As we’ve seen, it’s entirely possible to delete the Recovery partition from your Mac and free up a bit of storage. But we still don’t recommend it because Recovery mode is so useful. You might need it someday, and it’s a big pain to fix your Mac without that mode.
Thankfully, there are plenty of better ways to create more free space on your Mac.