Deleted files from external hard drive, removed drive, can't empty trash.

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jamesryanbell, Jun 27, 2017.

  1. jamesryanbell macrumors 68020


    Mar 17, 2009
    I'll try to make this short.

    1) I mounted a USB hard drive from a friend. I transferred a couple of small files, and while doing so, he said "can you just delete that directory on my hard drive to free up space", so I did.

    2) The files I deleted went to the trash. I didn't empty it.

    3) He took the hard drive and left.

    4) I went to empty trash, and it gets to file 179,000 or so and hangs. I don't have and cannot get the hard drive to plug in while deleting the trash. I just want to delete it with no issues WITHOUT the hard drive being present, but it always hangs.

    How do I successfully empty the trash?

    Any help appreciated.
  2. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    That doesn't sound right, and I wonder whether it's a red herring. Have you tried rebooting?
  3. chown33, Jun 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017

    chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    Every drive (technically, every volume) maintains its own folder for trash. At the volume level, there's a per-user folder for holding that user's trashed item. Those are held in a ".Trashes" folder at the root of the volume. You normally won't be able to list the contents of that folder, because it doesn't have read permission enabled for any user. The root user, of course, can circumvent all file-system permissions, so if one is curious, one can use 'sudo' judiciously.

    When you trash something on a removable volume and then eject the volume, the folder on that volume no longer constitutes any part of the Trash icon. That is, what used to be in the Trash is ejected along with the rest of the volume.

    This is pretty easy to confirm using a disk-image, which can be made with Disk Utility.

    Start with empty Trash. Make a disk-image, put some files and folder on it, then trash those items. The Trash icon will change to show things in the Trash. Then eject the volume. The Trash icon should revert to showing nothing in the Trash. Remount the disk-image, and the Trash icon will again show things in the Trash.

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