Best Way to Force Empty Trash on Mac (Tried and Trusted)

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Can’t empty trash on your Mac? Despite how seemingly easy it is to get rid of deleted files you no longer need anymore, there have been a few complaints by users on some failed attempts to empty trash on Mac.

Irrelevant files that you may have already dragged and dropped in the needs to be wiped out entirely for two reasons that tend to be of proper importance; one, deleted files still eat up disk space and you need the extra storage space to work with; secondly, when you leave loads of junk files on your computer, you risk slowing down the operating system. And sure enough it becomes understandably frustrating when you try erasing junk files from the multiple trash cans and encounter some pressing difficulties.

1Why You Can't Empty Trash on Your Mac

Erasing files from Trash is supposed to be as easy as locating the Trash icon in the dock and clicking the Empty Trash option, or by simply pressing these three keys successively: Command + Shift + Delete.

empty trash on mac

However, they are times when things get complicated, and some junk files appear to be inerasable. Here are reasons this is likely to occur:

1. Some files are currently in use, either by an open app, or by a closed app for a background process.

2. The names of some files contain special characters and would be considered as too important to be deleted. Renaming the file makes it possible to be deleted.

3. Some files are corrupted and need repairing.

4. Some files are under system protection integrity.

5. Some files have been locked. Such files display a lock emblem in the lower-left corner of their icons.  Right-click on the file and choose "Get Info." If the locked option is selected. Deselect the option and empty the Trash.

2Best Way to Force Empty Trash on Mac Using Terminal

In the days of Mac OS X, the command sudo rm -rf ~/.Trash/  was used to force empty Trash. But today, for those using El Capitan or Sierra or even something higher, these steps below prove to be more efficient and effective if you intend to force empty Trash using Terminal on Mac:

Step 1: Go to Applications or use spotlight to search and launch Terminal.

force empty trash terminal

Step 2: Insert sudo rm –R and ensure you add a space afterwards (you should not hit the Enter button at this point).

force empty trash terminal

Step 3: Click the Trash icon in the dock, pick all the item you want emptied from Trash. Then Drag the file and folder to the Terminal window you opened before.

Step 4: Now press the Enter button.

Step 5: Insert your administrator password. The password will not be shown being typed into the Terminal.

force empty trash terminal

Step 6: Now press the Enter button again. It's done!

force empty trash terminal

Depending on the number of files and folders you have on Trash, this might take a while.

3How to Get Files Back When You Accidentally Forced Empty Trash?

The good news is that whether you have accidentally emptied your Trash or deleted them intentionally and need them back again, there are third-party means to recover all your lost files to their original state before deletion.

With its user-friendly interface and powerful data recovery modes, AnyRecover is the best bet in getting back your wiped files.


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Why AnyRecover?
  • You do not need any experience to handle the application; it is easy to use.

  • You can browse and recover all types of files up to 1000+ kinds.

  • You are able to scan and recover deleted files from every storage medium; internal and external hard drives.

  • You can preview your files before retrieving them.

  • Files in virtual disks can be recovered easily as well.

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Steps on How to Recover Trash Emptied Files Using AnyRecover

Step 1: Go to Applications, and launch the AnyRecover app. Then select “Trash Recovery” mode.

anyrecover mac trash recovery

Step 2: Choose the file types you intend to work with and select the “Scan” button to begin the scanning process.

anyrecover mac trash recovery

Step 4: A window would open where you can preview and recover the files you want. Use the “Recover” button to start the recovery process.

anyrecover mac trash recovery

anyrecover mac trash recovery

Note: If you want to find more hidden files you could do so by using the “Deep Scan“ mode when you select the “All-Round Recovery”, which is the last option in the menu.

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By  James Crawford , to Deleted Files Recovery

Posted on Jan 23, 2019  ( Updated: Dec 16, 2019 )

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