How to Delete (or Restore) Your Mac’s Recovery Partition

Dan Helyer Updated 13-12-2019

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

macOS Utilities window from Recovery partition on Mac


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
  • Terminal

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 How to Install macOS From USB Want to install macOS from a USB drive? We'll walk you through this alternative method for installing macOS. Read More 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.

Carbon Copy Cloner main window

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: diskutil list.

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.

Terminal DiskUtil List Showing Macintosh HD Storage Type

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: diskutil list.

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.

Macintosh HD and Recovery partition identifiers in Terminal

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 APFS to JHFS+ to match your drive.

Terminal diskutil showing eraseVolume command

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.

Disk Utility window showing options to erase external disk

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.

Carbon Copy Cloner selecting Source and Destination

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.

Boot options for Mac showing External Drive

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.

Disk Utility sidebar showing parent drive for Mac internal storage

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.Create Recovery HD option from Carbon Copy Cloner

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.macOS System Preferences Software Update showing up to date Mac

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 How to Install and Dual Boot Linux on Your Mac Here's how to install Linux on your Mac. You can try dual-booting Ubuntu, or replace macOS with Linux entirely! Read More , 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 How to Free Up Space on Mac: 8 Tips and Tricks You Need to Know Running out of storage space on your Mac? Here are several ways to free up space on Mac and reclaim your drive space! Read More .

Related topics: Data Recovery, Disk Partition, Mac Tips, Storage, Terminal, Troubleshooting.

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  1. Will R.
    May 14, 2020 at 1:32 am

    Hi, thanks for the article. I have a mid-2009 Macbook (non-pro) which I'm trying to convert to a primarily Ubuntu machine since it will not support the newer Mac OSs, while still keeping an El Capitan partition. I have it partitioned but haven't gone all the way yet because I'm concerned about boot options. I figure the best way is to install rEFInd, but I can't boot into Recovery Mode to do it, I think my recovery disk is broken. I've tried several times to boot to it from a few different methods, but every time I do, it ends up booting normally into the OS operating system. Have you heard of this problem before? I plan to create a bootable recovery thumb drive ASAP, but should I be concerned that the Recovery drive on my hard disk won't work for whatever reason?

  2. Alan
    December 20, 2019 at 9:29 am

    how do i open up device manager if both my mouse and keyboard are not connecting to the pc

    • Dan Helyer
      December 20, 2019 at 10:51 am

      Hi Alan, if you've got a wireless mouse and keyboard that can't connect, the easiest solution is to find/borrow wired alternatives while you fix it.

  3. Cody
    June 27, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    I recently did this on an external USB that I use as a startup disk for El Capitan to run a couple older programs that don't work in Mojave. I was booted into Mojave when I tried this first. It did not work.
    $ diskutil eraseVolume JHFS+ Blank disk2s3
    Started erase on disk2s3 Recovery HD
    Unmounting disk
    Error: -69874: Couldn't modify partition map

    I booted into El Cap and it worked great. Add that to the list of reasons to keep a startup disk of an older system. BTW command I used was
    $ diskutil eraseVolume JHFS+ Blank disk2s3
    $ diskutil mergePartitions JHFS+ ElCap disk2s2 disk2s3

    The merge command required a name for the new partition. interestingly the new name was required for this to work but the drive was not actually renamed.

    The reason I wanted to delete the recovery partition is that I have a recovery on the internal drive. When I boot up with "Option" key to use the older El Cap drive, I get options to boot to the internal drive, the internal recovery, the USB drive, and a USB recovery partition. This eliminates one option so I won't pick the wrong one. I guess an easy fix would be to name the drive, "Pick this 1, dummy!"

  4. Rob
    May 16, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Following the instructions carefully (no CoreStorage on my system) and this did not work. In terminal after running this command (diskutil eraseVolume JHFS+ Blank disk0s3) I get the following error:

    Started erase on disk0s3 Recovery HD
    Unmounting disk
    Error: -69874: Couldn't modify partition map

  5. Freddy
    January 5, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    hello, how to get the recovery portion back?

    now we have:
    /dev/disk0 (internal, physical):
    0: GUID_partition_scheme *1.0 TB disk0
    1: EFI EFI 209.7 MB disk0s1
    2: Apple_HFS Macintosh HD 289.9 GB disk0s2
    3: Apple_HFS Subsidiary 699.7 GB disk0s3
    4: Apple_HFS Recovery HD 10.2 GB disk0s4
    but disk0S4 is visible in Finder and does not contain the recovery HD at all, it was manually edited in terminal after some greater partition issues.

  6. Michael Ko
    December 3, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Please fix this: merge command lacks partition name before disk0s2 and disk0s3 parameters. For this example:
    diskUtil mergeParitions JHFS+ Guest__OSX disk0s2 disk0s3

  7. Oofy Prosser
    May 20, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Hmmm... I entered a comment, put in my name and email, clicked "Post Comment" and my comment disappeared but my name and email remain. Did my comment get sent? I can't tell. So I'm sending this to see if I missed something.

    • Oofy Prosser
      May 20, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      Never mind, I see it. I just don't have the patience... ;-)

  8. Oofy Prosser
    May 20, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    I have a MBAir with a 128GB drive, MacOS Sierra. DiskUtil shows I have:
    0: GUID_partition_scheme *121.3 GB disk0
    1: EFI EFI 209.7 MB disk0s1
    2: Apple_CoreStorage Macintosh HD 120.5 GB disk0s2
    3: Apple_Boot Recovery HD 650.0 MB disk0s3
    This seems to indicate that the actual size of my SSD is 256GB. If I use the CCCloner method shown above and completely erase the SSD, I should then, in theory, have use of a 256GB drive for the cost of a 128GB. Seems logical to me, what do you think?

    The only fly in the ointment I see is that, when I reinstall Sierra, will it create a new CoreStorage partition? Thus leaving me with my original 128GB drive.

    Another thought is that when Apple does finally move from HFS+, they won't need a separate CoreStorage partition, so I could then use that for other purposes. Maybe. We can only hope.