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Force Empty Trash In OSX
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Force Empty Trash In OSX

by Jeff WeisbeinOctober 23, 2008

Have you ever moved a file to the trash in OSX and it just would not delete? Perhaps it was supposedly in use?  Well, here are a few tips and tricks to help remove those pesky files with relative ease.

One thing I have found to always work is to simply Log out (or even reboot) and log back in then attempt to empty the Trash.  This should usually work.  However, if you would prefer to stay logged in and/or not have to reboot, check out the solutions below.

How to force the Trash to empty using the Option key

This technique uses a hidden feature of Mac OS X to force the Trash to empty. It is important you follow these steps very carefully.

1. Press and hold the mouse button (or if you have a two button mouse – right click) on the Trash icon in the Dock. The context menu for Trash will display.
2. Press and hold the Option key.
3. Select Empty Trash from the context menu for Trash.
4. Release the Option key.

How to force the Trash to empty using Terminal

This technique uses a Terminal command to fore the Trash to empty. It is important that you follow these steps very carefully.

1. Launch Terminal, located in the Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities folder or search Spotlight for Terminal

2. At the Terminal prompt, type the following command exactly as written:

sudo rm -rf ~/.Trash/*

Important Notes:

* There is a single space after each of the terms sudo, rm, and -rf in the command.
* Double check you have typed the command exactly as it written above: incorrectly typing the command can result in serious system issues, including erasing your hard drive.

3. Press Return/Enter
4. Now type your Admin password when prompted, then press Return/Enter. The files in the Trash are now deleted.

Another possibility is to download and try this free application called Trash It! which is an AppleScript that force-empties your Trash and/or removes stubborn items.

How has this worked for you? Leave a comment!

About The Author
Jeff Weisbein
Jeff is the founder & CEO of BestTechie. He has over 10 years of experience working with technology and building businesses. He loves to travel and listen to music.

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