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How To: Force Empty Trash in OS X Mavericks

6 October 2013 21,447 views 6 Comments


Delete stubborn files and leave your OS Mavericks Mac smelling lemony fresh! Some files simply will not delete. Sometimes it’s just one and other times your Mac gets stuck “Emptying Trash” for hours. Here are fast and simple ways expunge lingering files, including how to force empty Trash.

If you get an error message saying, “The operation can’t be completed because the item “diediedie.doc” is in use,” then quit the last app that accessed that file.

Can’t remember which app? You can quit all running apps by pressing Command + Option + Control + Eject — yes, you will have the opportunity to save changes in open files.

If you get an error that says, “The file is locked,” then hold down the Option key and empty the trash again — holding down the Option key overrides locked files.

For what it’s worth, that way did not work for me, but it’s certainly worth a try.

The method that DID successfully force empty Trash involved a little Command Line magic.

Go to Application > Utilities and open the Terminal app. At the prompt, copy/paste or type the following command and hit Return:

rm -rf ~/.Trash/*

And, then quit Terminal — your Mac’s Trash can will be empty and, if you squint your eyes just right while cocking your head to one side, it will also have a nice lemony fresh scent.

In truth the above Force Empty Trash methods will work on any Mac running OS X, not just Mavericks.

Source: LifeHacker

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  • Fadi Naufal said:

    I did that, it didn’t work for a malwares I have:

  • Dave M said:

    Would not work. Tried it several time - several with my head cocked - still no go.

    After upgrading to Mav on my G5 Pro I found, on my desktop, a copy of my old folder.

    I placed in in the trash. No go. Told me I did not have permission. I asked mother, still nothing.

    I thought I would load it into another folder on my desktop and gradually, by adding folders one at a time, back in the trash and emptying. What I ended up with was another folder (it just copied trash contents) with the same problem. Grrrrrrr

    So go to the internet and found your solution - I thought - and here we are. Any other slants on this problem?

  • the rocr (author) said:

    One possible answer is: 1.) boot into Safe Mode first and 2.) then running force empty from the command line, as above


  • sid said:

    you need to do sudo su,

    then use rm -f /.Thrash/* command

    then we are able to empty thrash

    alternatively use the command with sudo

    sudo rm -f /.Thrash/*

    this should also work

  • David said:

    None of the suggestions I have found online let me delete locked items from Trash. None of them show up as being locked in their rerspective info boxes.

  • Raeven said:

    The sudo command written in the comments here does not work, but sudo with the command in the article does. Curiously, it will not erase trash files dragged from a separate partition- though super user should- though all permissions were set to read/write. However, the stubborn leftover crap did empty manually after I entered the command and quit terminal. So thank you very much.

    Kids, do not try Sophos at home. It’s bad for you.

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