Can’t Erase MacOS Base System? (Unmount, Force Erase Check)

Every computer has a basic structure that dictates how it operates and a backup system in case something fails. If you have a MacBook or iMac, you must have such a system, but what happens when there are operational issues? Can you erase or unmount the basic structure?

So, why can’t I erase the macOS base system? Erasing the macOS base system is the riskiest task on your computer, and Apple has made it impossible to prevent this. Deleting it will prevent the system from rebooting, rendering your Mac inoperable. The base system is the fundamental structure that allows access to the macOS utilities in case you are performing a recovery; without it, it will be challenging to reinstall the operating system.

If you are running into problems with your macOS, your next thought may be to force everything to erase to start on a clean slate. Read on to find out how possible this is and, if not, whether there are practical alternatives to try.

Resetting the system is handy when you want your device to resume its regular operation. You can factory reset your phone and erase everything, which works to get it running again. It would be amazing if you could do the same with your macOS base system.

Apple has ensured you cannot erase the macOS base system because of the risks involved. It was deliberate because the company knew some users would try it at some point. If you delete it, you face the irreversible effect of your computer never rebooting or restoring.

It is the structure that helps you access macOS utilities for recovery. It is impossible to install the operating system again or solve issues with failure to boot.

There is no way to erase macOS; even if there were, you should not try it. It has dire consequences to the entire device, like rendering your computer inoperable. Therefore, it is not worth the risk.

Besides, the system doesn’t take up a lot of space anyway, and nothing will change if you could erase it. Therefore, it is crucial to know what the macOS base system is, what it contains, and why it is critical for your computer.

The base system is the essential part of the Mac that helps it recover and reinstall when you have operational issues or want to install a different OS. It is vital in troubleshooting and dealing with any Disk Utility challenges with the Mac.

You must have bumped into it when going to recovery mode or accessing the Disk utility. It is a broken-down macOS version containing the necessary aspects for running and restoration.

macOS integral components

Apart from that, macOS also features integral components like some applications, Dock, System Preferences, and Finder. Finder helps you locate files from your computer when you need to open a new item or alter settings.

On the other hand, System Preferences are necessary for customization like the screen saver, desktop settings, and other tasks. For the Dock, it is the only way to make applications icons for them to appear faster as shortcuts or with a single click.

The base system also features apps like Safari, Notes, Mail, and Calendar. These only show why Apple was careful to make it impossible to erase. You will also find it handy when you need to restore your computer. There are chances of constant system crashes, lagging, and excessive error message pop-ups, but the base system is the ultimate backup to facilitate the repair process.

You will need it when you run into Disk and OS issues or find it hard to start up the computer. You won’t have to worry about it and will only find it when booting in Recovery. You can also avoid turning to recovery mode and using the base system with a few workarounds. For instance, you can delete unnecessary desktop folders that take up a lot of space and redirect them to Trash.

Doing that will be easier by enabling Stacks by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop screen and tapping Use Stacks. The best way to keep your computer safe from bugs and other issues is to maintain updating it.

This way, you will always have software updates and fixes as soon as Apple releases them and enjoy the impeccable performance and heightened security. You can check for updates through the Apple Menu.

From “About This Mac”, scroll to Software Update, then follow the prompts. Restarting is another quick fix that frees up RAM, resets cache, and helps solve Mac issues like lags in performance.

The macOS may also have performance problems, the Disk Locked pop-up being the most common. Restarting your computer in Recovery will require clicking the Disk Utility followed by Erase. Afterward, rename the Macintosh HD, leave Disk Utility, and reinstall macOS.

Unmount OSX Base System

Apple devices are some of the best in the market thanks to their attention to the users’ needs. However, like any other system, there are chances of hitches and bugs. One issue you may run into is the error pop-up stating “couldn’t unmount disk.”

Unmounting OSX Base System is quite challenging, and the Mac won’t allow you to erase it since it is the primary boot disk. However, there is a bypass you can use if the problem persists. You can back up all the data on the disk you are trying to unmount and use a different volume to erase it. The procedure works best on older Macs, but, unfortunately, removing the base system on Apple devices with T2 chips, Silicon, and Intel Macs is quite complex and risky.  

You should not unmount the OSX Base System since it is part of the partition that runs the device and helps repair it. If it functions smoothly, there is no need to tamper with it, only if it develops serious issues. Note that there are risks involved in unmounting the Base System. For instance, it may be challenging o to install a new operating system.

Only the OSX Base System does this and erasing it will interfere with the software back up. For outdated Macs running on OSX Base System, you can use an external USB stick for booting. Therefore, you can unmount the disk using the Internet Recovery Mode or an external storage device. If rebooting via the internet on an Intel Mac, first turn off the computer, then press down on Option-Command and R keys or Shift-Command and R.

A utility window will appear, allowing you to select Disk Utility, OSX Base System, and Erase. After successfully deleting it, you can download a fresh OSX from the Apple App Store. The procedure slightly differs when you use external storage to unmount the disk. You insert the flash drive with a bootable installer of the Mac OSX on the computer.

Next, go to the Apple menu, choose System Preferences, click Startup Disk, tap the padlock, and feed your password and username on the next window. Afterward, open the new disk and close the System Preferences. Next, restart the iDevice and launch the Disk Utility, open it and find OSX Base System. Then, select it, click Erase and confirm.

Finally, exit the page, go back to the Utility window, click Reinstall Mac OSX, follow prompts to finish the launch, and restart the computer. If the above unmounting procedure fails, you can use Terminal.

Launch it from Mac’s utility menu, text “diskutil list,” and click Return. Carefully identify the disk you want to erase and type, for instance, “sudo diskutil unmount Disk/dev/Disk2” and click Return.

The system may ask for other personal details like passwords. Unmounting OSX Base System is the same as erasing the computer’s operating system; without it, you cannot perform certain tasks on the device. Besides, Mac OSX doesn’t allow you to unmount its boot disk; otherwise, you may end up with a computer that cannot reboot. 

Force Mac to Erase

Erasing your Mac means resetting the entire system, but you need a backup plan. You may want to erase the current macOS for numerous reasons, but it is not as easy as it sounds. If you have issues with your device and only erasing it will help, you should know how to go about it.

You can force your Mac to erase the disk via the Terminal procedure, which requires detailed steps. Dealing with the issue by focusing on particular volumes other than the actual disk will help make the process easier.

If you fail, it may be because you are using an outdated macOS. Therefore, you need to upgrade the operating system before force deleting. If you follow the right procedure, you will not find the process challenging. 

If your Mac has performance issues, chances are high that it will be tedious to delete certain files from the hard drive. Updating the macOS is one way to force your Mac to wipe out certain information.

Older firmware may have Disk Utility hiccups and replacing them means restoration of smooth operation. Hence, you can effortlessly erase all the data causing these challenges. Updates are available in the Apple Play Store, or you can click Preference, Software Updates, and check for new releases.

Erase issues

If your Mac can’t erase data from the whole disk, you can try doing it with each volume. Maybe this way, you can end up formatting the entire hard disk. You will also know whether the issue is with the HD or a particular volume.

Go to your computer’s Finder, click Applications, then Utility, and finally the Disk Utility. Next, click the left corner, open the volumes button from the drop-down menu as you select, and erase the volume to delete from the Mac.

The Terminal app is also an alternative method to force delete. From the Finder, go to Applications, Utility, then choose Terminal from the long list in the middle bar. After opening the application, text the “diskutil list” command and click Return.

This way, you will receive all the data you need regarding each disk from the computer. Before you type the erase disk command, note the identifier of the particular disk.

For instance, you can type “diskutil erase disk HFS+DISK disk1” to delete the content in a particular disk. Generally, using the Disk Utility is the ideal way to delete data from your Mac, but if you encounter problems, you can try the hacks above. Conventionally, you can use your computer to erase by clicking the Apple icon on the left corner of your computer’s screen and tapping the Restart tab.

Next, press down the Windows and R buttons once you hear a reboot tone. Wait until you see a macOS utility window pop up and choose Disk Utility from the list. Pick Macintosh HD from the sidebar, then tap Erase.

A window should appear with the formatting options to choose from; it can be APFS or Extended (Journaled). Tap Erase and confirm the action. After successfully formatting, you can go back to the Utilities window and click Reinstall macOS.

Follow prompts until the Set-up Assistant appears on the Mac, then press the Command + Q keys to turn off the computer and restart it. You will have fully erased the MacBook and will be ready for a clean start. Before deleting anything from your Mac computer, there are a few essential things to consider.

Backup is essential

First, ensure that you back up any vital data on the device, especially if you want to resell it. It is advisable to sever anything that links you to the iDevice. Sign out of all Apple accounts and other apps.

Also, note that your device should not constantly have issues with system failure because they may interfere with the resetting process. There are several reasons you would want to force erase your Mac, especially because deleting data is an excellent way to eliminate bugs.

Moreover, if you want to resell the gadget to another user, you should clear the system before handing it over. Before doing this, you must back up all your data to avoid leaving anything accessible to the new owner. Some files may also interfere with the Mac; only erasing them will help ease operations. You can also try erasing a particular disc volume if it is not working.


The last thing you want when using your Mac is to deal with performance issues. Unfortunately, no system is immune to bugs and other complications stopping operations or making them too slow. While factory resetting works for other devices, the case is different for the Mac.

The macOS base system is not erasable. It is an integral aspect that helps the device reboot and repair when there are bugs. Apple has ensured that it is grayed, meaning there is no way to tamper with it. Otherwise, you will eliminate an essential part that helps the Mac run. Your computer will fail to boot up and will not operate.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is a technology expert based in the UK, with experience across a number of technology areas from phones, tablets, computers to gaming.

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