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Question: Is there any way to free up space that was once Bootcamp partition?

Hello.


I had Windows installed in a Bootcamp partition on my Mac hard drive, but it was taking up far too much space and I wanted rid of it. However, I think I might have goofed...


I opened Disk Utility and clicked on the Partition button at the top so that the pie-chart diagram was showing on the left-hand side. I made sure that the Bootcamp partition was highlighted and then I clicked the minus sign underneath to remove the Bootcamp partition, and then clicked the Apply button.


I'd assumed that this would instantly free up the 92GB or so that it had been taking up, so that I'd have a lot more free space on my Macintosh HD, but when I looked at how much storage was used and free the figures were identical to what they had been before.


I'm now thinking that I should really have erased the Bootcamp partition before I deleted it.


I have a feeling that a load of space on that Macintosh HD is now full of stuff that is completely unusable, because it's no longer in it's separate Bootcamp partition, but I cannot work out how to remove it to free up the space as intended.


Is there any way out of this predicament please?


I'm running macOS 10.13.1 on a late-2010 MacBook Pro with a 500GB SATA hard drive fitted.

MacBook Pro, macOS High Sierra (10.13)

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A long line of expletives have preceded you over the years. 😉


The simplest fix is to live with it (if you can), and redo the drive when you are ready.


Unless you already have a bootable USB stick with High Sierra, you will need to download (just click Download button) the installer, and then let it set in your /Applications folder. Then, follow this Apple guide to making a bootable USB stick for High Sierra from the Terminal. It says 12GB, but an 8GB stick will suffice.


Ideally, you would have run Time Machine one last time before you boot from the USB stick. Some would even encourage you to run SuperDuper, or Carbon Copy Cloner to duplicate to another external drive — for added backup protection.


Shut your Mac down. Connect to a power supply, and Ethernet cable (though wireless will work). With the bootable USB stick inserted, press and hold the option key as you boot again. You will see an array of your boot drive icon, its recovery partition, and the High Sierra USB stick.


Eventually, you will get to the installer interface. You want Disk Utility from the Utilities menu, identify your boot drive by its top device name (500MB blah blah), and click Partition. Enter the name: (e.g. Macintosh HD), the Format: Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and the Size: 500 GB. Then apply. When it is done, exit from Disk Utility, and proceed with the clean installation on the newly partitioned boot drive. Use Time Machine when asked to restore from the last backup.

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Nov 17, 2017 8:39 AM in response to Steve Zodiac In response to Steve Zodiac

The only correct way to remove a Boot Camp partition is with Boot Camp which will free up the space, and update the partition map to show the unused storage reclamation. When you remove the Boot Camp partition by other means, the space is not recovered, and the partition map is not updated. Bump.


The painful remedy is to reformat the drive with Disk Utility to a single partition, as HFS + case-insensitive Journalled with GUID partition scheme, and reinstall the operating system.

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Nov 17, 2017 8:39 AM in response to Steve Zodiac In response to Steve Zodiac

The only correct way to remove a Boot Camp partition is with Boot Camp which will free up the space, and update the partition map to show the unused storage reclamation. When you remove the Boot Camp partition by other means, the space is not recovered, and the partition map is not updated. Bump.


The painful remedy is to reformat the drive with Disk Utility to a single partition, as HFS + case-insensitive Journalled with GUID partition scheme, and reinstall the operating system.

Nov 17, 2017 8:39 AM

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Nov 17, 2017 10:11 AM in response to Steve Zodiac In response to Steve Zodiac

A long line of expletives have preceded you over the years. 😉


The simplest fix is to live with it (if you can), and redo the drive when you are ready.


Unless you already have a bootable USB stick with High Sierra, you will need to download (just click Download button) the installer, and then let it set in your /Applications folder. Then, follow this Apple guide to making a bootable USB stick for High Sierra from the Terminal. It says 12GB, but an 8GB stick will suffice.


Ideally, you would have run Time Machine one last time before you boot from the USB stick. Some would even encourage you to run SuperDuper, or Carbon Copy Cloner to duplicate to another external drive — for added backup protection.


Shut your Mac down. Connect to a power supply, and Ethernet cable (though wireless will work). With the bootable USB stick inserted, press and hold the option key as you boot again. You will see an array of your boot drive icon, its recovery partition, and the High Sierra USB stick.


Eventually, you will get to the installer interface. You want Disk Utility from the Utilities menu, identify your boot drive by its top device name (500MB blah blah), and click Partition. Enter the name: (e.g. Macintosh HD), the Format: Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and the Size: 500 GB. Then apply. When it is done, exit from Disk Utility, and proceed with the clean installation on the newly partitioned boot drive. Use Time Machine when asked to restore from the last backup.

Nov 17, 2017 10:11 AM

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Nov 17, 2017 1:11 PM in response to VikingOSX In response to VikingOSX

Wow! ...I was only expecting a link to some instructions; I never thought you would go to such trouble and type all that to help me. Thank you ever so much.


Regarding Time Machine, though, I do intend backing-up with it before beginning the process, but if I do that will it not also back-up whatever it was that didn't get erased from the erstwhile Bootcamp partition? And if I restore from that back-up will it not also restore that data along with everything else, and sort of get me back to the situation I'm in now?


(Incidentally, I can't really live with it as it is. I need Windows running, but with the now wasted Bootcamp space there isn't enough remaining space to install it under Parallels.)


Thanks again.

Nov 17, 2017 1:11 PM

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Nov 19, 2017 1:40 PM in response to Steve Zodiac In response to Steve Zodiac

Having made a right old mess for myself the other day, I'm now paranoid about going any further before my point above about Time Machine backing-up and then restoring the unwanted stuff from the 'deleted' partition, as well as the wanted stuff, is clarified.


Can anyone please assist? Will doing a full restore from Time Machine just get me back to where I already am?


I'm ready to do the work, and I've bought myself a USB stick specifically to do it, but if it just takes me back to square one there would be no point.


Advice from another place is to use Migration Assistant to selectively restore from Time Machine, but that sounds like a really big and complex job with many potential pitfalls, (that I feel sure I'm bound to fall into...), and I'd like to avoid it if possible.


I'm sorry to appear so thick...

Nov 19, 2017 1:40 PM

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Nov 19, 2017 1:56 PM in response to Steve Zodiac In response to Steve Zodiac

My understanding of Time Machine is that it is going to only backup your booted Mac partition contents, less any specific part of that filesystem that you tell it to exclude. It is not imaging the entire hard drive with multiple partitions. If that were true, it would be backing up my Mountain Lion partition that I purposely do not have mounting by default.


Go ahead with your fresh install, and when you select Time Machine, it will do the right thing in the restoration process.

Nov 19, 2017 1:56 PM

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Nov 19, 2017 2:16 PM in response to VikingOSX In response to VikingOSX

Yes, thanks. But of course I only have the one single partition now, called Macintosh HD. Will it not backup the whole of that, including the wasted unusable and invisible bit that was once Bootcamp but is now integrated into the main single partition?

I must admit, part of me is telling me to just go ahead and see what happens. But then that’s sort of where I went wrong last week...

Nov 19, 2017 2:16 PM

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Nov 25, 2017 6:17 AM in response to VikingOSX In response to VikingOSX

Okay, I really appreciated your efforts to solve my problem. Thank you.


But in fact I solved it without having to create or use a bootable USB stick, following advice from another place (MacRumors forum).


In the spirit of sharing knowledge, here's what I did:-


  1. Performed a full-system Time Machine backup. (VERY IMPORTANT!)
  2. Shut down my Mac.
  3. I then ensured that the external drive I used for the Time Machine back-up was plugged in to a USB socket on my Mac. (The Time Machine back-up drive is a bootable drive in itself, so there's no need for a separate USB stick.)
  4. I then restarted my Mac whilst holding down the Option key, which took me to 'choose boot drive' screen.
  5. I selected my Time Machine external drive and hit Enter.
  6. This initiated a re-boot from the backup drive and took me to the 'Restore Screen', or 'OS X Utilities Screen'.
  7. I clicked on the bottom section of the table, called 'Disk Utility'.
  8. In the Disk Utility window I clicked on the button above the left-hand pane and chose 'Show all devices', which reveals the root hard drive at the top of the list instead of just the Macintosh HD volume. (If the 'Show all devices' option isn't ticked the top-most item would be the Macintosh HD and, if that is selected, restoring from the backup will not free up any more space.)
  9. I clicked on (selected) that very top item in the left-hand pane. (I think it's name usually includes its manufacturer; mine was called Hitachi something or other.)
  10. With that drive selected I clicked on the 'Erase' button in the middle top of the Disk Utility window to completely erase/format the entire hard drive in my Mac, (I did this with gritted teeth and my fingers crossed...), and I clicked OK or Continue at each of the check warnings.
  11. Once erasure was confirmed by Disk Utility, which was done terrifyingly quickly, I quit Disk Utility, and then I clicked on the top section of the utilities table, 'Restore from a Time Machine backup'.
  12. I chose the most recent backup, clicked Continue and accepted the warnings about erasing Macintosh HD.
  13. The Time Machine Restore process took about four hours, and when it had finished my Mac was in an indistinguishable from how it had been before the process. Everything was exactly the same, apart from the free space on my Macintosh HD, which had shot up from 22GB to 116GB.


With grateful thanks to Weaselboy on MacRumors.

Nov 25, 2017 6:17 AM

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Question: Is there any way to free up space that was once Bootcamp partition?