How To Empty The Trash On Your Mac & Securely Delete The Files

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To delete files from Mac, all you need to do is drag the file and put it in the Trash. But as we know that emptying the Trash on Mac is one necessary thing to keep up space on the hard drive, we follow the usual method for the same. However, the files don’t get deleted, and Trash remains occupied under certain circumstances. This causes space consumption on the drive and may interfere with some processes of the system. Don’t worry as, through this blog, we mean to deliver you methods and solutions on how to empty Trash on Mac without worrying about anything else.


1. The Usual Method: Empty Trash
2. How To Empty The Trash On Mac When File Is In Use
3. How To Empty The Trash On Mac When File Is Locked
4. How To Empty The Trash On Mac Using Terminal
5. How To Empty The Trash When Disk Needs Repairing
6. How To Get A Clean Mac & Optimize It?

 How To Empty The Trash On Your Mac?

1. The Usual Method: How To Empty The Trash On Mac

Emptying Trash on a Mac is a very simple process. All you have to do is:
Empty The Trash On Your Mac

You would find a question: ‘Are you sure you want to delete the items in your Trash,’ choose Empty Trash. This warning or question is asked because once these files are gone, you would be free from all the Trash permanently.

how to empty the trash on Mac

2. How To Empty The Trash On Mac When File Is In Use

Often there is a sign indicating ‘The operation can’t be completed because the item <name> is in use.’ You may not be able to see those items open or running on the screen, but any application might be using it for background processes. This means that you need to close the file first and then empty the Trash can.

empty trash on a mac

Before we move ahead for the same, restart your Mac and try deleting the file again. If any hidden process is using the file, it will stop and help in emptying the Trash.

NOTE that if you wish to find which application is using the file, try the commands mentioned below.

2.1. Click open the Trash folder. Meanwhile, open the Terminal and write Isof and press space bar once.

2.2. Without pressing return, pull the file in use to the Terminal window.

2.3. Now press return. A list of applications will be displayed on the screen using the file in the Terminal window.

2.4. Quit the application, and you can later empty Trash on Mac.

3. How To Empty The Trash On Mac When File Is Locked

 A locked file could be identified by the lock icon depicted beside the same. When you want to delete the error ‘The operation can’t be completed’ because you don’t have permission to access some of the items.‘ These files prove to be a difficult task, and it feels like you cannot empty the Trash on Mac. Well, there is another way round from here. Follow the steps mentioned below.

3.1. Open the Trash folder and right-click the file, which is locked and can’t be deleted permanently.

3.2. Choose Get Info or press Command & I button after clicking on the file once.

3.3 Uncheck the Locked checkbox.

With these steps, you can unlock the files that were difficult to delete earlier and later empty the Trash in the usual manner.

4. How To Empty The Trash On Mac Using Terminal (Force Empty The Trash)

If you are comfortable using Terminal to empty the Trash, there is another solution awaiting. For this, follow the steps below.

4.1. Open Terminal and type or copy: sudo rm -R and leave a space after R. Make sure not to press Enter.

4.2. Now open the Trash box, select the files, and drag them all to the Terminal windows.

4.3. Press Enter. If the Administrator password is asked, input the same and press Enter once again.

This way, you will be able to free your Trash from the files not required anymore.

5. How To Empty The Trash When Disk Needs Repairing?

At times, hard disk issues bother the Trash from getting emptied and need some balm for repairing. This could be done using Disk Utility. Follow the instructions below for the same.

5.1. Press Cmd + Space and launch Spotlight.

5.2. Here, type Disk Utility and press Return.

5.3. Select the name of your hard disk. Choose First Aid & then Run.

It will help you with finding any errors, but it might not be able to help you in fixing the problems. You may need to reboot your Mac on Recovery mood for any disk issues later.

6. How To Get A Clean Mac & Optimize It?

Although a good and smart tool is capable of emptying the trash and securely deleting the files, CleanMyMac X can also help in optimizing the system very efficiently.

Whether its interface, price or effectiveness, this tool is capable of keeping the system’s energy intact.


You can easily get rid of system junk like cache files, system log files, language files, user log files and much more which smoothes down the performance of Mac. In fact, email attachments, iTunes junk, photos junk and trash bins are all dumped together with one single click of scan. 

Get CleanMyMac X From Here

6.1 Launch CleanMyMac X on your Mac.

6.2 Let it scan the system and find out all the junk and trash.

6.3 Click ‘Clean’ to get rid of unnecessary things from the system.

FAQs: Empty The Trash On Your Mac

1. Do I need to empty trash on Mac?

Emptying the trash is always good to keep your Mac optimized as your system gets free from unnecessary clutter.

2. How do I force trash to empty on a Mac?

To empty the trash, hold the mouse button on Trash icon, hold the Option key with it, select ‘Empty Trash’ from the options and release the key.

3. How do you delete trash on Mac?

Click Trash icon on the dock. As the next window appears, select the item and click Empty from here. Each item could be deleted using this way or else choose ‘Empty trash’ from the tab on the top.


We are sure that you could have solved how to empty Trash on Mac by now. Whether you want to empty the bin through the usual method or use the Terminal, it could be done using the methods mentioned above. Moreover, one can even empty the Trash when the file is locked, cannot be opened, and not ready to get deleted.

Did we help you in solving the problem? If yes, drop us a comment in the section below.

Thanks for reading!

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How To Empty The Trash On Your Mac & Securely Delete The Files

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