emptying trash from an external hdd on macbook pro

Discussion in 'macOS' started by donzone, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. donzone macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2010

    i use a macbook pro i5 @ 2.4.
    i've connected my wd passport on it and what happens is that i delete my files from my external hdd they move to trash. but when it comes to empty the trash the files are still there with zero or few kb. as soon as i dissconect my externall hdd, trash goes back to normal as if it was empty. as soon as i reconect my hdd, trash still shows the files inside.

    any soloutions??
  2. MacForScience macrumors 6502


    Sep 7, 2010

    Your trash goes back to normal when you eject the drive because the trash exists on the external drive not on your internal hard drive. The above link will show you how to force the trash to empty.

  3. donzone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2010

    thanks for the quick response, i tried to force empty my trash with the external hdd connected but nothing happend. the files are still there.
  4. donzone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2010
    hello again,

    i cant get force trash to work in snow leopard 10.6.

    i also found this: will it work??

    The temporary folders that are used are the following (NOTE: These are hidden):

    This folder contains files on the local boot disk that were thrown away by your user account. If you have a file on the desktop and drag it to the trash, it will be moved to this folder.

    At the root of every drive is a "Trashes" folder that contains files on that drive that have been moved to the trash on a system that has used the drive. This is true for internal and external drives, with the exception of networked drives (NAS or computer shares). If a file appears in the trash when you attach an external drive, then it is in that drive's "Trashes" folder.

    To tackle problems with the trash, the first thing to do is check which trash folder is being used for the files, since more than likely your inability to access the folder is causing the problem; however, you need to know which folder it is. To do this, compare your problem to the following scenarios:


    Problematic files in the trash disappear when you eject a drive? The problem is with your "Trashes" folder at the root of that drive.

    Problematic files stay around when you eject and unmount all but the boot drive? The problem is with your "username/.Trash" folder.

    You cannot place a file into the trash (system wishes to delete it immediately): is the file in your home folder or Desktop? If so, the problem is with your "username/.Trash" folder; however, if the file is on an external disk, then it is with the "Trashes" folder at the root of that drive.

    Once the folder has been identified, the best way to fix the problem is to delete it and have the system recreate it by logging out and logging back in; or, in the case of the "Trashes" folder at the root of the drive, the folder is recreated when the drive is unmounted and mounted again.

    Here are the ways to delete the respective "Trash" or "Trashes" folders. Keep in mind that when you do this all files currently in the trash will be permanently deleted. Additionally, these folders are hidden so we will access them using the Terminal.

    1. The "username/.Trash" folder

    Open the Terminal and run the following command. After this is entered in the Terminal, you will be asked for your password (which will not be displayed) before the command is run.

    sudo rm -rf ~/.Trash

    2. The ".Trashes" folder at the root of each drive.

    The easiest way to delete a problematic ".Trashes" folder at the root of a specific hard drive is to run the following steps after opening the Terminal:


    Enter "sudo rm -rf" followed by a single space.

    Drag the specific hard drive to the terminal (do not press enter yet, or if you have and it is asking for a password at this point, press Control-C or close the terminal window and start again).

    Press backspace once to remove the automatically placed space, and then complete the command with the following:


    The command should now look something like the following (your drive may be a different name than "Backup", and may contain spaces in it with backslashes before them):

    sudo rm -rf /Volumes/Backup/.Trashes

    With this command entered, press "Enter" or "Return" and supply your administrator password. Then eject the drive and plug it back in. In the case of internal hard drives or partitions, either use Disk Utility to remount the drive, or restart the computer.

    CAUTION: Misuse of the "rm" command may result in data loss! Be sure you enter the command as stated above so the full path points to the .Trash or .Trashes folders, and does not contain a space without a backslash in front of it (/Volumes/My\ Backup/.Trashes). Most times, an error in the file path will result in no actions being taken; however, the following is an error in the command's syntax that will result in the entire contents of the named hard drive being erased if you continue:

    sudo rm -rf /Volumes/Backup/ .Trashes

    The space before ".Trashes" tells the command to target all files and folders in the /Volumes/Backup/ drive for deletion instead of just those in the ".Trashes" folder.
  5. Hal Itosis macrumors 6502a

    Hal Itosis

    Feb 20, 2010
    I would recommend —before going wild with dangerous rm commands —closely examining a full listing of all trashed items first, to see exactly what is where:

    sudo ls -lakeROb /Volumes/*/{,Users/*/}.Trash*

    Also, it's a good idea to verify/repair the filesystem of all volumes with Disk Utility... to ensure that directory damage isn't responsible for these headaches.

    [note: command assumes we're running a Bash shell, to do the brace expansion.]
  6. 411monk macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2011
    I struggled with this "trash" issue, and just mounted my external HD to a Windows machine and deleted what I wanted. It's all good now.
  7. BruDaniell macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2009
    Trash in Snow Leopard

    It's a shame that we have to resort to using a Windows based computer to remove trash from an external hard drive. I wasted hours trying to clean up a couple of external hard drives following a computer upgrade to an iMac with Snow Leopard. There was a couple of error messages that would appear to make it impossible to remove a few files from the WD Book external drive. The file would have "no permissions" or "in use".

    I hooked the wife's Dell Netbook with System 7 and deleted the files right away. It took my Mac several minutes to review all the files to be deleted and then time to delete them...but left some still in the trash. I guess the Dell did the job in three minutes rather than the fifteen minutes with the MAC. Many of the files were system backups of my previous laptop and were not necessary anymore.

    First time I found a Windows based computer easier to use than a MAC, hey anybody out there? Some of the solutions suggested to "solve" the trash problems were to BUY third party software to help you take out the trash. Now that is really stupid. How can such bright software engineers fall short on a simple task? There ought to be a dialog box to insure you want to really get rid of certain trash, but it should not be that much of a problem that you have to resort to internet searches for a way to clean up a quality computer.

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