It's impossible to empty the Trash from your Mac. Here's how you can fix it

You can't delete files in the Trash folder on your Mac. These are some tips and tricks to empty your Trash. Typically, emptying the Trash folder (or Bin depending on your location) is simple. Open the folder, and click on the Empty link in the upper-right corner. This is all there is to it. There are some cases where the Trash won't allow you to delete files. This guide will explain how to handle such cases. This guide describes how to determine if files are locked or in Use. If you have a disk problem preventing you from emptying your Trash, we'll show you how to fix it. We'll also discuss how to use Terminal to make the garbage trash disappear.

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1. Restart your Mac

It is ideal for an app or file to be closed when it finishes running. It can cause problems if this happens in rare cases.

A quick restart can be a good idea before moving on to more complex solutions.

How To Restart MacBook [Tutorial], Source: Youtube, MDTechVideo 

Reboot your Mac, then try again to empty the Trash. Jump to the next section if it does not work.

2. How to Clear the Trash from a Mac when Files are in Use

Sometimes, the Trash folder on your Mac won't be empty because specific files are still being used.

They might be used by another app or some other background operation. You'll be able to tell if this is true by a popup that says 

How To Empty Trash On A Mac, Source: Youtube, Tech Talk

If the item is a Word file, you will need to close it in Word. You will need to complete the application if it is an app. So on.

Sometimes, it is not possible to pinpoint exactly where the file exists. A background process might be using the file in these situations. To verify, press Option+ Cmd + Esc for the Force Quit window.

Close any other programs that might be preventing you from clearing out the Trash on your Mac. You can buy macOS app reviews to know more about this feature.

Advanced File Usage Troubleshooting

Alternatively, a startup item or login item could be using the file. This can be avoided by turning on Safe Mode to start your Mac. This prevents some software from automatically booting up.

To put your Mac into Safe Mode and empty the Trash

  • Your Mac must be turned off.
  • Now turn on your Mac, and hold Shift immediately.
  • After you have booted into Safe Mode, open the Trash.
  • Click the Empty link (in the upper-right corner).

Mac Troubleshooting Guide, Source: Youtube, Apple Byte

If a startup application were using the file, this would delete it. The Terminal can be used to verify which app is locked. Here's how to do it:

  • Open Trash.
  • To launch Spotlight, press Cmd + Spa
  • Enter Terminal, and then press Return.
  • Enter ls, and then press Space. This command lists open files and display a list with files opened by the process.
  • Drag the file to the Terminal and go back to Trash
  • To run the command, press Return

The list of apps that have used the file will be displayed. This doesn't work in our case because many programs aren't using the file.

If you are viewing a list of programs, you will need to close them. The Terminal may not show the full names of all apps. You might need to complete several apps.

3. How to Get Rid of Trash If Files are Locked

Another possibility is that the files you are trying to delete might be locked. Here are the steps:

Open the Trash.

Control-click the file that you wish to delete.

How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac Even Emptied Trash, Source: Youtube, Wondershare Recoverit Data Recovery

Click For More Information.

Deactivate the Locked box.

This will allow you to unlock the file and then let it go. You can click the Empty link again. Alternatively, Control-click the file to click Delete immediately.

4. How to empty Trash when your disk needs repair

You might have a hard disk problem that prevents your Trash from emptying. This can be checked by opening Disk Utility and using First Aid. Or you can buy google play reviews for more details.

These are the steps to finish the process

  • To launch Spotlight, press Cmd + Spa
  • Enter Disk Utility, and then press Return.
  • Choose the name of your hard drive. You must ensure that it contains the file you wish to delete.
  • Click First Aid and then select Run.

How to force empty trash on Mac, Source: Youtube, CleanMyMac

While the First Aid function will inform you of any errors, it cannot fix problems on your primary disk while it is running. To fix disk problems on the startup drive, you will need to restart your Mac in Recovery Mode.

If you have problems with your Mac's hard drive, repairing it is an option. A disk repair will allow you to delete items from the Trash permanently.

You may have to force the Trash to the curb if there isn't a disk problem at the root cause of your problems.

5. How to force the Trash to go!

You can delete a locked file, but you cannot unlock it by holding the Option Key. Try holding Option and clicking the Empty buttons. Your Mac will bypass any file locks by having Option.

If your Mac doesn't allow you to unlock files, this is a great option.

You can also bypass any other errors that may prevent the Trash container from emptying.

It's a great way to delete files permanently. It could be that macOS prevents you from deleting files because of a valid reason. It's possible that you accidentally sent a necessary file to the Trash.


How to Force Empty Trash On Your Mac, Source: Proreviewsapp

Use the following nuclear method with caution.

  • To open Spotlight, press Cmd + Spa
  • To launch it, type Terminal, then press Return.
  • Enter Sudo Rm -R, and hit Space. This command will force-delete files.
  • Drag the files to be deleted to the Terminal window.
  • Use Return.

To authorize the command, enter your Mac's administrator password. This is a security feature that won't display as you type it.

To confirm, press Return and then run the command.

This will instantly delete any files that you have dragged to the Terminal. This will remove all of the Trash from your Mac.


How to Empty the Trash from a Mac? Clearing out your Trash is a great way to keep your Mac tidy and uncluttered. This helps your Mac run more efficiently and saves Space. This article should have helped you empty the Mac Trash. After clearing your Trash, you can buy macOS app installs to download some nice apps.

Although the Mac is well-known for its sturdy software and hardware design, it can still fail at times. This could be anything from a malfunctioning mouse to more trash troubles, as in our case.

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Hope this article is helpful to you, thanks for reading.



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