Data Erasure

What to do when Disk Utility can't Erase Mac Hard Drive?

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    Written By Ashutosh Kumar

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    Updated on June 23, 2022

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    Min Reading 6 Min

Summary: Mac systems provide Disk Utility to erase the Mac hard drive if needed. Sometimes, you are unable to erase the disk on Mac using Disk Utility due to various reasons. This article discusses various methods to erase Mac hard drive. It also mentions a file eraser software that helps you erase data from Mac hard drive, beyond the scope recovery.

The simplest way to erase a Mac hard drive is by using Mac’s native app Disk Utility. But what to do when Mac Disk Utility can’t erase the hard drive? This may happen due to different reasons. If you find Disk Utility on Mac can’t erase a hard drive, this article will help you resolve the issue.

Methods to Resolve the ‘Disk Utility can’t Erase Mac Hard Drive’ Issue

You’re not able to erase or reformat the hard drive on your Mac when the Erase button turns gray. If this is the case, follow the methods given below:

1. Erase Mac Hard Drive by Enabling ‘Show All Devices’

The Disk Utility app in Mac shows the partitions or volumes on your system instead of the complete hard drive. The volumes or partitions are separate sections of the same parent hard drive created to facilitate data storage in an organized manner. To view and erase the Mac hard drive, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Launch Finder, open Application from the Sidebar, and click Utilities.

Click Utilities

Step 2: From the Utilities folder, open the Disk Utility app.

Disk Utility

Step 3: Click View on the top left and select the Show All Devices option.

Show all device

Step 4: From the list of drives that appear in the Sidebar, select the parent folder of the drive you want to erase.

Step 5: Click Erase.

Click on Erase

Note: Erasing the parent folder of a hard drive will also delete all the data inside the drive in folders and subfolders. Keep the DIY software Stellar Data Recovery Standard for Mac handy and ready to use in case of accidental data loss.

2. Use First Aid to Repair Drive before Erasing

Mac systems provide an option to cope up with the glitches in the hard drive. The First Aid option in Disk Utility can fix issues, like corrupt files, slower performance, etc., in the hard drive. First Aid scans the hard drive for any existing errors and informs you if it can’t repair any of the found issues. Here is how you can fix and erase the Mac hard drive:

Step 1: Launch Disk Utility from the Application folder.

Step 2: Select the drive that you want to erase.

Step 3: Click the First Aid tab on the top of the Disk Utility window.

Click on First Aid

Step 4: In the confirmation box, click Run.

Run First Aid

Note: The time taken by First Aid depends on various factors, like size of the drive, number and size of corrupt files, extent of errors in the drive, etc.

Once the issue is fixed, follow the steps described in the first method to erase the Mac hard drive.

3. Use Recovery Mode to Erase Mac Hard Drive

Sometimes, the Disk Utility can’t erase the hard drive because the system is using it. By booting into recovery mode, you allow minimum usage of the hard drive. Follow the steps below to boot your Mac into Recovery Mode and erase the hard drive:

Step 1: Restart your Mac.

Step 2: When your Mac starts booting, immediately press and hold Command + R keys.

R+ Command

Step 3: Keep holding the keys until you see the Apple logo and hear the chime.

Step 4: You will see the macOS Utilities window. Select Disk Utility and click Continue.

macOS Utilities

Once the Disk Utility opens, try to erase the hard drive.

4. Erase Data using BitRaser File Eraser

If you feel that the above methods are too much work to do and you wish to save your time and effort, you can use BitRaser File Eraser software to erase data from the Mac hard drive. BitRaser File Eraser is one of the most secure and efficient data eraser software that erases the data on the drive by overwriting it multiple times. It uses globally recognized erasure algorithms that make data recovery impossible. Follow the steps below to erase the hard drive:

Step 1: Download and install BitRaser File Eraser on your Mac.

Step 2: Launch the software and click on Files and Folders in the Select What to Erase window. Then click Next.

Select Files & Folder

Note: You will need to enter the Admin password to allow BitRaser File Eraser to erase the files and folders on your Mac.

BitRaser for File Enter Login Credentials">

Step 3: Select all the folders and files to completely erase the drive.

Select the Files need to Erase

Step 4: Click the Erase button in the bottom right of the software window.

Step 5: If your software is not activated, you will need the Activation Key to activate the software. Insert the activation key.

Enter Key

Note: If you don’t have the Activation Key, click Get it Now to purchase the product and get the key.

Step 6: As soon as you enter the Activation key and hit Activate, you will see a message BitRaser for File Activated successfully. Click OK.

Activation Done

Step 7: Again click Erase and the eraser process will start.

Erasing in Progress

All the selected files and folders will be deleted beyond the scope of recovery.

Note: The BitRaser File Eraser software provides you with an option to erase traces, deleted data, and also to schedule the eraser tasks.


Erasing data from a Mac Hard Drive is not a difficult task. You can easily erase the Mac hard drive by using the Disk Utility, which is an inbuilt feature of Mac. However, sometimes, you face difficulty in doing so due to different reasons. In such cases, you can follow the methods described above to erase the Mac hard drive.


1. Why can't I erase my Mac startup disk using Disk Utility?

If you are trying to erase your Startup Disk and cannot do so, it might be because your Mac uses the Startup Disk to perform almost all the functions, including the macOS. You can erase your hard disk by booting into Recovery Mode as Mac has a separate partition to run in recovery mode and your Startup Disk remains idle in that case. You can also use a third-party software like BitRaser File Eraser to erase files and folders on your hard drive.

2. How do I force my Mac to erase a hard drive?

Follow the below steps to erase your M1 Mac hard drive:

  • Restart your Mac. Press and hold the Power button till the startup options appear.
  • Click Options and then click Continue.
  • Select Disk Utility from the Utilities window and choose Macintosh HD from the sidebar.
  • Click Erase and select file system as APFS for M1 Mac.
  • Click Erase Volume Group.

Your Mac hard drive will be cleaned up for further use.

3. Can I completely wipe my Mac?

Yes, you can easily wipe your Mac system completely using the macOS Utilities menu. If you are planning to sell your Mac or if it is not working properly, you will need to completely erase the Mac hard drive. You can also take help of a third-party data eraser software, like BitRaser File Eraser to erase some particular files/folders or the complete hard drive.

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