How do I delete files from USB flash drive in OS X ?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Piepz, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. Piepz macrumors member

    Feb 7, 2007
    Riga, Latvia
    I don't know how to delete truly files from my flash drive. Whenever I press cmd+backspace or simply drag file to trash, it doesn't delete fully, i.e., space available doesn't increase on flash drive, the icon just disappears.
    When I plug it in using Windows, I can see .Trash and .Spotlight<something> folders which are hidden. In .Trash I see my deleted files, but how the heck can I really delete them off my flash drive ?
    This is driving me nuts.. I often just copy all my content to hard drive, format flash drive and then copy back my content..

    PLEASE help me!

    Thanks in advance!
  2. invasian macrumors regular


    Jun 7, 2007
    yea...for some reason, there is a .trashes folder that contains a backup of the files you put in the trash. You have to delete that folder to actually free up the space.

    alternatively, instead of moving it into the trash can, you can open up terminal and type rm and then just drag the files into the terminal window (-n
  3. CarlsonCustoms macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2007
    You say there is a .spotlight file.. can you go to spotlight preferences and have it not index the flashdrive? That should get rid of that file at least. Other then that I just format with Disk Util. but that's not the best answer
  4. slu macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2004
    Do you empty your trash after you delete the files? This should free up the least it does for me on my external USB drive. But I don't have a Windows machine to see what it looks like after.
  5. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    .trash is just that files that are in the trash. Empty the trash on the mac and it will free up the space.
  6. maxrobertson macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2006
  7. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    The whole point of the Trash Can - like the Recycle Bin in Windows - is to allow a user to "change their mind" and recover the information they have placed there until such time as they make the conscious decision to formally remove it by "emptying" the Trash/Recycle Bin.

    That OS X extends this to USB flash drives is a benefit in my book, but YOMV.
  8. tuinte macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2008
    This is how!

    You have to empty the trash while the USB stick is plugged in. That will permanently delete the things you have deleted. No Terminal, Spotlight or anything. Just Empty Trash while the USB key is still mounted.

  9. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    Not true. If you move an object to a folder holding another object with the same name, then the object already there will be deleted and replaced by the new one.

    Huh? The Trash is the place for objects that you want to delete. If you don't empty the Trash, then the objects there will stay there forever. However, if you don't want to delete a particular object, then remove it from the Trash. This is not a difficult concept. Mixing objects that you want to delete with those that you don't is an accident waiting to happen.
  10. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    The flip side is the awkward one (permanently deleting selected files from the trash can) - It's not something that you'd want to do every day but there are occasions when you might, and OS X doesn't support this scenario.
    The OP above is a perfect example: you want to permanently delete some files from your USB stick but can't do it without them going into the trash can first (except from a terminal window). Then you can't just delete them from the trash can - you have to empty the whole trash can.
    The effect of this is you have to empty your trash to delete some files from a USB stick to free space on it - this is a side effect that shouldn't be forced upon you
  11. wajmhome macrumors newbie

    Sep 17, 2009
    Maybeh CWallace

    I would count that true:rolleyes:...HOWEVER, it might be better if the mac stored the "._trash" file onto its actual hard drive instead of on our poor little USB (unless of course the hard disk is near full, in which Mac OS X would prompt you). Also, who here has any idea what is with the ".DS_Store" files are with. They are really starting to bother me as I have to remove them all the time.:confused:
  12. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003

    Same idea as the dekstop.ini file windows creates.
  13. sheelah007 macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2010
    deleting hidden files... all files

    From Finder
    Type “Disk utility” where there’s a magnifying glass
    Click on drive to be deleted
    Information on right will pop up
    Choose “Erase” tab on top right
    Click on “Erase Free Space” on bottom left of box (it will be grayed out but will work)
    Zero it out!!
  14. OutSpoken macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009

    Very true. it's so silly. I'm faced with this problem now...

    I have just copied a file from my usb to my mac, and now I want to delete the file from my usb to free up space.... however the only way to do this as mentioned, is to move the file to the trash and empty the trash while the usb is connected.... PROBLEM.. I don't want to get rid of the other deleted files in the trash YET!

    So what do I do?:confused:

    I've just noticed this post, I'm kind of scared to try this incase I end up losing some important work files, although I understand the logic:eek:
  15. fefie.h macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2010
    I can't seem to delete the file from the flash-drive that was given to me by a friend.

    I did the trash, but got told that I can't put the files into the trash because I can't delete them. They are just simple jpeg files from my friend. :eek:

    Help would be appreciated
  16. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    Huh? Are you trying to delete files while they are open in some application? If not, then what is the specific error message?
  17. davidlv macrumors 65816

    Apr 5, 2009
    Kyoto, Japan
    Suggestion, I am sure there are other solutions: Make a new folder on the USB drive, name it "Temporary" or anything you like. Move the files in the trash you want to save for a while to that new folder, leaving the ones you want to delete permanently, and then empty the trash.:cool:
  18. AyreGuitar, Jan 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    AyreGuitar macrumors newbie


    Jan 30, 2011
    Wales, UK
    A little trick I now use to delete files permanently from my USB stick without having to empty my Trash (makes use of the fact that copy & paste of a folder will delete EVERYTHING in the old folder - learnt this the hard way coming from PC with Windows!):

    1. Drag everything on the USB stick into a single folder (create a new folder first if necessary)
    2. Create a folder of the same name on your hard drive, eg USB
    3. Drag or Copy/Paste this new folder to your USB stick
    4. You'll get a warning: 'An older item named “USB” already exists in this location. Do you want to replace it with the newer one you’re moving?'
    5. Click 'Replace' (rather than 'Stop')
    6. You'll be left with a USB stick that has an empty folder on it and no space used up for the Trash
    A bit more longwinded than I would like, but perhaps a bit less frightening for most users than using disk utility.

    Also, for fefie.h, this should delete files that were read-only - which I think is the problem you're having. Right click on your file and select Get Info, then check 'Sharing & Permissions' at the bottom of the panel that opens. It'll say something like: 'You can only read' or 'You can read and write' (I'm using OS X Snow Leopard, so it may be different on your OS)

    Hope this helps,

    Kevin Ayre
  19. Starlights macrumors regular

    Jan 22, 2011
    Man! You are scaring me! All this much just to delete some files?
    For most part i use Windows, but recently started to also use Mac - as it is, its not a simple transition (read learning curve) and now i see this post !! :eek:
  20. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Those steps you quoted are not really necessary at least in my experience with half a dozen of flash drives using FAT32 as file system.
    I simply put the files into the Trash and empty the Trash while the flash memory stick is connected. It worked for me without hiccups the last six years.

    Also worth taking a look at: Helpful Information for Any Mac User by GGJstudios
  21. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I agree. That process requires rearranging files on the flash drive, which may not be desired. It also assumes you want to erase everything on the drive, which may not be desired. Simply deleting what you want and emptying the trash with the drive attached should work perfectly. As a first and only post by that poster, I'm less likely to believe they know what they're doing.
  22. AyreGuitar macrumors newbie


    Jan 30, 2011
    Wales, UK
    My post was in response to Outspoken (and others) who wanted to delete files on a USB without emptying Trash (probably should have quoted). I came to this forum looking to do the same thing, and having figured out a solution myself, just thought I'd share - didn't mean to scare anybody quite the opposite :)
    I've been using a MacBook for around 2 years now having used PCs from DOS all the way to WinXP.
  23. thepyro395 macrumors member


    Sep 5, 2010
    Why does having the trash on my mac not deleted make my flash drive lose storage. I don't understand that.
  24. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    When you move any file to the Trash, it's not yet deleted, and it's still taking up space on the drive. Only when you empty the Trash does the space get freed up for use by other files. This is true for all drives, whether internal or external.
  25. moanygit macrumors newbie

    Mar 2, 2011
    This is crazy, I needed to clear a few hundred Mb from my memory stick last night and to do that I had to sit and wait for an hour while I emptied my trash on the hard drive?
    And to add insult to injury, while this was going on I can't use my memory stick for anything?

    I move a lot of music files around and the freedom to load/unload a memory stick quickly and easily is essential.

    Why would they make it so difficult to simply delete some files from a memory stick?
    is there ANY benefit to this?

    Will try the terminal/disk utilities options later. But this is a MAJOR failing of MACOS imho.

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