Mac Tutorials

How to Delete Corrupted Files on Mac

To get rid of corrupted files in Mac’s Terminal:

  1. Select the files and press Option + Command + Delete.
  2. Force delete a file in Terminal: sudo rm -R filename.
  3. Change permissions.
  4. Secure Empty Trash.
  5. Delete the files in safe mode.
  6. Create a guest account to delete files on your Mac.
  7. Delete corrupted files from an external hard drive.

 

You try to open a file, only to realize it’s corrupted. But when you attempt to delete it, it doesn’t budge. Now you’re stuck with a file that’s useless and hogging up much-needed space on your Mac. What do you do?

 

Before we start

 

Corrupted files take up space that could be used for important data and documents. Since they’re of no use, deleting them is the only solution. However, because they’re corrupted, sometimes they can’t be deleted the easy way, and a force-delete may be necessary.

 

MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller is an excellent tool to get rid of unused files, apps riddled with bugs, and corrupted files from your Mac. So, if you’re dealing with a challenging file that refuses to go to the trash, our tool is what you need.

 

Here’s how to delete corrupted files on a Mac using MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller:

  1. Download MacKeeper on your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air device.
  2. Select Smart Uninstaller in the sidebar and click the Start Scan button.
  3. MacKeeper will look for items to delete and list them. Go through each category and list to ensure the corrupted files are selected, and click Remove Selected when you’re happy.

It’s common for corrupted files to get stuck on your Mac. Fortunately, it’s not permanent. In this article, we’ll show you all the fixes to help you get rid of those stubborn corrupted files.

What are corrupted files on Mac?

Corrupted files are damaged files that can’t be opened or used on a Mac. When files get corrupted, Mac doesn’t notify the user. You only notice it when you come across the file or try to open it. For that reason, you could harbor corrupted files on your Mac unknowingly. Learn how to fix corrupted files on Mac.

How to find corrupted files on Mac

Here’s how to check if you have corrupted files on your Mac:

  1. Open and check each file for corruption.
  2. Check for file structure corruption in Disk Utility.
  3. Restart your Mac in single-user mode by holding down the Command + S keys.
To check if you have corrupted files on your Mac, examine each file for corruption. Check for file structure corruption in Disk Utility. Restart your Mac in single-user mode by holding down the Command + S keys as shown in the image.

Ways to delete damaged files on Mac

Corrupted files are of no use to you. Why not delete them to free up storage for important files on your Mac? Below are six methods to get rid of damaged files on your MacBook.

1. How to delete files immediately with a keyboard shortcut on Mac

Follow the steps below to delete corrupted files immediately using a keyboard shortcut:

  1. Select the file or files you want to delete and hit the Option + Command + Delete keys.
  2. A pop-up message will appear. Confirm your decision by clicking Delete.
The first method to delete corrupted files is removing them immediately with a keyboard shortcut. To do this, select the file or files you want to delete and hit the Option + Command + Delete keys. A pop-up message will appear. Confirm your decision by clicking Delete.
Step 1. Press the Option + Command + Delete keys
A pop-up warning will appear on the screen. Click the Delete button to confirm your decision to remove the corrupted file immediately.
Step 2. Delete the item immediately

Tip from our team: 

 

Some MacBook devices don’t have the Delete button on the keyboard. If your device is one of them, try the old-school way of deleting files. Simply drag the file to the Trash can in the Dock. You can then clear the Trash to ensure the file is gone forever. It’s best to do this once you’ve deleted everything you want to get rid of.

If your MacBook device doesn't have the delete button on the keyboard, you can get rid of a corrupted file by dragging it to your Mac's Trash in the Dock.

This is one of the easiest methods, but there are others. Learn how to delete files on Mac.

2. Force delete a file on Mac using Terminal

Mac’s Terminal app may be used to delete a damaged or unwanted file. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Terminal app (you can do this by going to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal).
  2. Enter the command: rm, hit the space bar key, drop the file you want to get rid of into the Terminal window, and press Enter.
To delete a damaged file in Mac's Terminal, start by opening the Terminal app (you can do this by going to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal).
Step 1. Opening Terminal on a Mac
The next step in deleting a file using Terminal on a Mac is to enter the command: rm, hit the space bar key, drop the file you want to get rid of into the Terminal window, and press Enter.
Step 2. Deleting an item in Terminal

Some Mac users are intimidated by Mac’s Terminal app. However, you don’t have to be a developer or expert to use it. As long as you enter the correct commands for the tasks you’re undertaking, you should be fine. What’s important is that you follow our steps carefully to avoid making errors. Failing to do so could result in data loss.

3. Change permissions to delete files on Mac

If a corrupted file won’t delete, you can try changing its permissions. Here’s how:

  1. Select the locked file and click Get Info to open a new window.
  2. Go to the Sharing & Permissions section and change the permissions from Read only to Read & Write by clicking the arrow next to the permission to unlock the file.
You can change a file's permissions to delete it on your Mac. To do this, select the locked file and click Get Info to open a new window.
Step 1. Select Get Info
Now go to the Sharing & Permissions section and change the permissions from Read only to Read & Write by clicking the arrow next to the permission to unlock the file. This changes the file's permissions, so you can delete it.
Step 2. Change file permissions

You can now try to delete the file again. Are you having issues opening Finder? Learn what to do when Mac Finder isn’t responding.

4. Secure Empty Trash

Here’s how to permanently delete a file using Mac’s Secure Empty Trash feature:

  1. After force deleting a file, click and hold the Trash icon in the Dock and simultaneously hit the Command key. Wait until the Empty Trash option changes to Secure Empty Trash and select it.
  2. Alternatively, click Finder, followed by the Finder menu, then select Secure Empty Trash.

Hint from our experts: You may not have access to Mac’s Secure Empty Trash feature, as it was removed in OS X 10.11 El Capitan. If you don’t have it on your macOS version, don’t worry. Try the other solutions in our article instead.

5. Delete files on Mac in safe mode

To delete files in safe mode:

  1. Shut down your Mac, wait approximately 10–15 seconds, and restart it
  2. On an M1 Mac, choose your system disk, hold down the Shift key, and Continue in Safe Mode. On an Intel Mac, press and hold Shift until the login window appears
  3. Log in to your Mac device and delete the files you want to remove from it.

6. Create a guest account to delete files on Mac

To create a temporary user account to delete files:

  1. Click the Apple menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Options > plus (+) icon and populate the fields in the window to create a new user account.
  2. Move the target file to the shared folder, then log out of your main account, sign in to the temporary account, and move the file to the Trash.
  3. Log out of the temporary account, sign in to your main account, and delete the new account by clicking System Preferences > Users & Groups > [temporary account name] > Login Options > minus (+) icon > Delete User. This will delete the new account and the troublesome file.
You can delete corrupted files by creating a guest account. To do this, click the Apple menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Options > plus (+) icon and populate the fields in the window.
Step 1. Create a new user profile
Move the target file to a shared folder and sign in to the temporary account to delete it. Now sign in to your main account and delete the new account by clicking System Preferences > Users & Groups > [temporary account name] > Login Options > minus (+) icon > Delete User.
Step 2. Delete the user account

How to delete corrupted files from an external hard drive on Mac

Follow the steps below to delete a damaged file from an external hard drive on your Mac:

  1. Connect the external disk to your Mac and open it.
  2. Select the corrupted file and remove it by pressing Command + Delete. This will send it to the Trash.
You can also delete corrupted files from an external hard drive on a Mac. Start by connecting the external disk to your Mac and open it. Now select the corrupted file and remove it by pressing the Command + Delete keys.

Keep your Mac free of clutter

Corrupted files are useless, taking up valuable space on your Mac. Consider getting rid of them using the tips in our article. Fortunately, various methods exist to find and delete corrupted files on a Mac. This includes deleting them immediately with a keyboard shortcut, force-deleting them in Mac’s Terminal, deleting them in safe mode, and more.

 

An effective way to remove unwanted files is to use automated software, like MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller tool. Not only does it take care of the process on your behalf, but it also gets rid of bugs—all in one click.

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