How to Empty Trash on Mac

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13 / 10 / 2017

How to Empty Trash on Mac

If you no longer need file or folders, you can remove them anytime. Start by dragging the unnecessary items to the Trash, but remember that things are not deleted until you empty the Trash. There are three easy ways to do this.

  1. Press Ctrl and click (or simply right-click) the Trash icon and choose the  Empty Trash option.

  1. Click the Finder icon and choose the Empty Trash option in the Finder taskbar menu.

  1. Press   Shift (⇧) + Command (⌘) + Delete (←) buttons at the same time. 

If You Cannot Empty the Trash

Is something preventing you from emptying the Trash? This may happen when the file you want to delete is in use. Here’s how you can solve this issue.

  1. Close the application that was using the file you want to delete and retry emptying the Trash.  

  2. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, the app might be running some background processes using the file you’re trying to delete. In this case, try to restart your Mac and then retry emptying the Trash.

Still no luck? Check if login items are using the file. To prevent the file from opening automatically, you need to launch your Mac in the Safe Mode. To do this, just follow these steps:

  1. Shut down your Mac.

  2. Hold the Shift key and start up your Mac.

  3. Release the Shift key once you see the desktop or login window.

  4. Empty the Trash and restart your Mac.

Last Chance: Use Recovery Mode

If all the steps listed above still don’t allow you to empty the trash, then the Recovery Mode is your magic wand. Hold down the Command (⌘) + R keys while your Mac starts up. You are in Recovery Mode if the macOS utilities window appears. Select the disk containing the file you want to remove. Next, run the First Aid tool to repair the drive. The repair process requires some time depending on the capacity and condition of your hard drive. Finally, restart your Mac and try to empty the Trash. Success? Congrats!


Now you know what to do in case the Trash doesn’t respond as expected. What issues did you have with removing your files? Share your experience in the comment section and we’ll help you!

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