How to Force Eject a Volume or Drive in OS X

How to Force Eject a Volume or Drive in OS X

Sometimes OS X doesn’t want to let you eject a volume or an external drive. Sometimes this is because a program is using a file on the volume in question, but other times the volume just seems to be stuck! Fortunately, there’s an easy solution! We’ll show you two ways to force your Mac to let go!

Method 1

The easiest and safest way to force a volume to eject is to open a new Finder window, locate the drive or volume in the left-hand column, right-click or option-click the volume, and select Eject “[Volume Name]” in the drop down menu.

You may see a message like the one above, telling you that there may be a program using that volume. If you’re sure that’s not the case, then click “Force Eject…”, and Voila! That’s all there is to it!

Method 2

For those of you that prefer using Terminal, or would rather eject the drive with a single command, simply open Terminal, and type the following:

diskutil unmountDisk force /Volumes/DISK_NAME

Just replace  DISK_NAME with the name of the volume you want to eject, press enter, and you’re done!

I’ve found that the first method is much more successful – I’ve had the disk fail to unmount more than once using the Terminal command.

Note: Make sure you have closed all applications that may be using the volume you want to eject, and that the volume is not in use. Otherwise, you risk facing data corruption or even data loss! And, as always, use Terminal commands at your own risk!


  1. Bob Johnson says:

    You should remember that you can always drag and drop the volume/disk into terminal and it will automatically enter the volume’s directory. For example type in: diskutil unmountDisk force and then drag and drop your drive.

    1. Barnaby says:

      Thank you! This is excellent advice. I was having trouble working out the directory, because I didn’t know you had to put a before a space.

      1. Andrew Fox says:

        If you write /Volumes/ and then the first 2 letters of your drive label and hit tab it will autocomplete it for you.

  2. Andrew Fox says:

    Thanks man was trying to clone a hard drive using OSX Recovery’s Disk Utility but it just didn’t want to eject my disk it kept saying it was in-use (by what?) so I used the terminal method and worked a treat.

  3. Webb Sussman says:

    This doesn’t cover what happens when a DVD fails to mount and you have to try and force eject it. It doesn’t show up in Volumes. How do you force eject the DVD??

  4. Glo James says:

    WOW, great tip about the drag and drop into Terminal. THE ONLY thing that worked. Bookmarking this one. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *