“Couldn’t unmount disk” errors usually appear in Disk Utility when the boot drive is busy. As a first line step be sure to close all open files and programs and try again. If the error persists, reboot the computer and try again.

Using a boot drive

If you’re still having problems there are a couple of options to fix this error but the easiest is usually to boot from another drive and run Disk Utility from there. This completely stops the boot drive from running (since you are using a new boot drive) and so the issue can’t present.

Once you’ve got your boot drive, run Disk Utility and use the ‘First Aid’ option to verify the disk and repair if needed. Now attempt the task that caused the error again. Full step by step instructions for this process are available here.

In some cases you can use the Mac recovery partition instead.

How to use the Mac recovery partition

  • Reboot into recovery mode by holding Command and R whilst the Mac is starting up
  • Click disk utility from the boot menu
  • Click first aid to verify and repair or erase to format

If the error presented through modifying the boot partition, use the boot drive method instead as this one won’t work.

Unmount via command line

You can try to unmount the drive from the command line. You can access the terminal from recovery mode, it’s under Utilities -> Terminal.

Caution: This method can cause data loss

Open the terminal application and enter the following command replacing [DRIVE_NAME] with the name of the drive you are trying to unmount.

diskutil unmountDisk force /Volumes/[DRIVE_NAME]

If that command doesn’t work try using:

diskutil list

Find the drive in the list and make a note of the identifier. It will look like ‘disk’ with a number after it. E.g. disk3. When you have your identifier use the following command replacing [disk_id] with your identifier:

sudo diskutil unmountDisk force /dev/[disk_id]

What to do if you get a ‘sudo: command not found’ error.


If you are looking to get your device repaired by an Apple Authorised Service Provider, you can do so by:

Disclaimer: Any actions taken as a result of this article are at the individuals discretion. Whilst all the information is checked to be accurate, Amsys will not compensate for any damage or inconvenience. If you do not feel comfortable performing any of the actions noted above please either book a repair or contact Apple support.