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Erasing a FileVault 2–Encrypted Volume from the Command Line

On occasion, it's necessary to erase a FileVault 2–encrypted volume. However, sometimes Disk Utility won't let you erase or repartition an encrypted drive until you unlock or decrypt. This can be an issue for a malfunctioning FileVault 2–encrypted volume that won't let you either unlock or decrypt.

To help with this issue, the diskutil tool provides a way to delete CoreStorage volumes from the command line, including the ability to erase encrypted CoreStorage volumes (also known as FileVault 2–encrypted volumes) without first deleting them.

Begin by running the following command in the Terminal:

diskutil cs list

The result is a list of the CoreStorage volumes on your system. Unless you have a fusion drive or multiple encrypted drives, your FileVault 2–encrypted drive should be the only one listed.

In the listing, select and copy the Logical Volume Group (LVG) alphanumeric UUID for your CoreStorage volume. The LVG should be the first UUID listed, and it's the one we want to delete (see Figure 24).

Figure 24

Figure 24 Using diskutil cs list to find the Logical Volume Group UUID.

Next, run the following command in the Terminal:

diskutil cs delete UUID_here

This command deletes the encrypted CoreStorage volume and reformats it as an unencrypted HFS+ volume (see Figure 25).

Figure 25

Figure 25 Using diskutil cs delete to erase the encrypted drive.

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