Mac Emergency! Part 2: fast fixes for the most common Mac problems

Joe Kisell
8 September, 2013
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Trash Won’t Empty

When you drag files or folders to the Trash icon in the Dock, OS X doesn’t delete them immediately. Just as you can pull something out of a physical rubbish bin before the garbage collector drives by, you can remove files from the Trash until you get rid of them for good (and thereby recover the disk space that those files were using), by choosing Finder > Empty Trash. BY JOE KISSELL.

Quit the app

If the error message asserts that a file is in use, quit the last app that accessed that file (if you know what it is). Then try again to empty the Trash. Sometimes the error message is spurious – for example, Mail may report that a file is in use long after you sent it as an attachment. Quitting Mail, emptying the Trash and then reopening Mail usually fixes the problem.

Override the lock

Does the error message tell you that a file is locked? Hold down Option and again choose Finder > Empty Trash; in this situation, the Option key tells OS X to override locked files.

Force the trash to empty

Those tricks won’t work in cases where the error message declares that you don’t have permission to delete a file, or where no error message appears at all but the Trash remains full. In those instances, you have a couple of alternatives.

Trash it. If your trash won’t empty, this modest utility from NoName ScriptWare can force the issue.

You may already have a utility that, among other things, can force-empty the Trash. For example, both Maintain’s US$19 Cocktail (www.maintain. se/cocktail) and Titanium Software’s free (donations requested) OnyX ( offer this feature among their tools.

For a small utility the only function of which is to force the Trash to empty, try NoName ScriptWare’s free (donations requested) Trash It (www.

Hit the Terminal

All of those utilities send OS X commands that you can issue yourself in Terminal.

To do so, open Terminal (in / Applications/ Utilities), type cd ~/.Trash, and press Return. Type sudo rm -R followed by a letterspace (note that the letterspace is essential), but don’t press Return yet.

Instead, click the Trash icon in your Dock to open a window displaying the contents of the Trash. Select everything in
that window and drag it into the Terminal window; this action adds the paths of all of those files and folders to the rm (remove) command. Now, press Return, and enter your administrator password when prompted. In a moment or
two (depending on how much material is in your Trash), the Trash icon should return to its empty state.

by Joe Kissell

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