How to Force Empty Trash on Mac: 100% Working Solutions

Learn how to force empty trash on Macbook Pro, Air, and other Mac systems in this guide. We have listed 6 different ways to force delete trash on Mac here.

Aug 30,2019 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

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“My Mac is getting extremely slow and I don’t know how to get rid of its trash. Can someone please tell me how to force empty trash on Mac?”

If a similar query has brought you here, then consider this your lucky day! A lot of Mac users find it hard to manage their Trash folder. No matter how many times they try to empty it, there is always some or other leftover content in it. Since Mac automatically manages the Trash folder, you might need to take some extra measures to force delete trash. This will let you have more free space on your Mac or get rid of your sensitive content. In this post, we will make you familiar with 6 different ways on how to force delete trash on Mac.

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Part 1: Reasons You Need to Force Empty Trash on Mac

Before uncovering ways to do macOS force empty trash, it is important to know the reasons. Following are some of the major triggers for taking this action.


Part 2: How to Empty Trash on Mac

No matter what the reason is, you can easily learn how to force delete trash on Mac by following the right approach. Here are some easy solutions to force delete trash that you can try.

Method 1: Use Mac’s Terminal

While it might seem a bit complicated, using Terminal is the best practice to take a complete control over your Mac. For instance, by entering the right commands, you can do almost anything on a Mac – and forcefully emptying its trash is no such exception. Here’s how you can learn how to force empty trash on Macbook Pro and other Mac versions.

  1. Firstly, we need to launch Terminal on Mac. The easiest way to do this is by opening Spotlight and looking for Terminal from here. Just make sure that you are using the administrator account to get privileged access.

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  2. Once the terminal window is opened, enter the keyword “sudo rm –R” (without the quotes). Make sure you place a space before “-R” and don’t press enter as of now.
  3. Now, open the Trash folder on your Mac and select all files on it. Drag these files and drop them to the Terminal window.

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  4. After dropping these files, press enter. You would be asked to type the admin password for your Mac to proceed.
  5. Press enter after typing the correct password and wait for a while as it will force empty trash on Mac.

Method 2: Using the Trash App Utilities

There are tons of third-party apps out there as well that can help you force empty trash on Mac Yosemite, Sierra, High Sierra, and other macOS versions. Though, before you download any file shredder app, just make sure it works for your macOS version. There are freely available as well as paid apps to force delete trash and manage your Mac storage. Some of these common apps are Trash it, Stellar Wipe Mac, MacClean, Mac Optimizer, Cocktail, CleanMyMac, and so on. From these options, let’s learn how to force empty trash on Mac using CleanMyMac.

  1. Firstly, install the CleanMyMac app on your system and launch it whenever you wish to force delete trash on Mac.

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  2. From the provided options on the left panel, visit the “Trash Bins” feature. Click on the “Scan” button to look for all the saved content from the Trash folder.

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  3. You might have to wait for a while as CleanMyMac would extract the data from the Trash folder.
  4. In this end, you can review the extracted content and the size of the Trash folder. Simply click on the “Empty” button and wait as it would force delete trash content.

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Method 3: Restart and Try Again

There are times when even after deleting data from the Trash folder, it isn’t removed. If you have followed the right approach, then consider restarting your Mac. If the application is running in the background, then a restart would get rid of the temporary files in the process. Therefore, it will also force empty trash on Mac as well.

  1. Simply click on the Apple logo on the screen (on the top left corner).
  2. From the provided options on the list, choose to “Restart” your Mac.
  3. As a countdown would be started, click on the “Restart” button again to confirm your choice.
  4. 4. Wait for a while as your Mac would be restarted.

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Method 4: Empty the Trash folder in “Safe Mode”

Sometimes, when we restart Mac in the normal mode, the Trash folder stays intact. To overcome this problem, you can consider restarting your Mac in the Safe Mode instead. Later, you can empty trash when your Mac is in the Safe Mode. Here’s how do you force empty trash on Mac via Safe mode.

  1. Firstly, simply go to the Apple logo and click on the “Restart” button to reboot your Mac.
  2. As your Mac would restart, hold the Shift key on the keyboard. Keep holding it when the Apple logo would appear on the screen.

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  3. This will boot the Mac in the Safe Mode instead with minimum features. Now, go to the Trash folder and empty it.

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  4. In the end, click on the “Restart” button and let your Mac reboot in the normal mode. Just make sure you don’t press any key this time so that it restarts normally.

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What if your Mac can't be restarted? Get the fixes here: 10 Solutions to Mac Won't Turn on.
- 2 minutes to read it.

Method 5: Use the Option Key to Force Empty Mac Trash

This is an old trick for previous Mac versions that you might consider trying. Mostly, it will only work if your Mac is older than the 2015 version. Since the Option key lets us access certain key features of an application, it can also help us force delete trash on Mac as well.

  1. Locate the Trash folder on your Mac’s dock and hold the mouse on its icon.
  2. As the context menu would appear, press the Option or the Shift + Option keys at the same time.
  3. Click on the “Empty Trash” option from the list.

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  4. As a pop-up would appear, confirm your choice by clicking on the “Empty Trash” button again. You would have to wait for a while as your system would wipe the Trash folder.

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Method 6: Disable System Integrity Protection

The System Integrity Protection (SIP) is a native Mac feature that was introduced in macOS 10.13 and exits in every later version. It protects third-party apps to access certain features on Mac. Therefore, if you are using a third-party tool to do Mac force empty trash in use, then you need to disable SIP on Mac first. Here’s how you can turn off the System Integrity Protection feature on Mac.

  1. Firstly, restart your Mac in the Recovery Mode. Simply restart it and keep pressing the Command + R keys to enter the recovery mode of your Mac.

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  2. Once the recovery mode would be loaded, go to the Utilities option and open Terminal.

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  3. Type the “csrutil disable” command and press enter. After a while, restart your Mac in the normal mode.

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How to Recover Data from Emptied Trash

Sometimes, users end up deleting data from the Trash bin accidentally as well. If you have also done the same, then consider using Recoverit Data Recovery Mac. It runs on every leading macOS version and will let you restore your lost, deleted, or inaccessible content in all scenarios. Even if you have formatted a drive or have emptied the Trash, the advanced tool will extract your data. It features different scanning modes and will let you preview your data before restoring it.

To use Recoverit Data Recovery for Mac, follow these simple steps:

Step1: Select the location:

Firstly, launch the Recoverit Data Recovery application and choose where you wish to perform the data recovery operation. Just make sure the System Integrity Protection feature is disabled beforehand.

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Step2: Scan selected location:

As the application would scan the selected location, wait for a while for it to extract the deleted content.

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Step3: Preview and Recover the Files:

After completing the process, the application will display the results on the interface. You can preview your photos, videos, etc. here and select the files you wish to save. Click on the “Recover” button in the end and get them back to a safe place.

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Conclusion

That’s a wrap, everyone! I’m sure that the guide would have helped you force empty trash on Mac by following these proven techniques. Apart from that, if you have accidentally deleted data from the Trash bin, then consider using Recoverit Data Recovery. An exceptional data recovery tool for Mac, it will let you get back your lost files under different circumstances and from various sources.

Sue Wen

staff Editor

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