Can't empty the trash on the Mac? The Mac app "Trash it!" helps!

Trash it icon
Trash it icon

The Mac app "Trash It!" is the free solution for all trash problems on Mac.

For a few weeks now there have been a number of folders in my trash that simply cannot be deleted. An emptying of the recycle bin was always acknowledged with the message that the process could not be completed. Little by little, messages popped up stating the folders and files that could not be deleted.

Of course I tried a restart and then also tried "Force empty Trash", ie deleting with the ALT key pressed. Nothing helped.

In various Apple support articles such as this I found some tips and tried them out, but practically nothing helped.

Mac App Cocktail partially solves the problem

In another post I have the reference to the Mac app "Cocktail"found, which also has a button with which you can empty the trash. I installed the app and pressed the button. Then I had to enter the admin password and actually some folders and files were deleted - but unfortunately not all.

"Previous System" particularly persistent

The Previous System folder was the only one left in the trash after using Cocktail. And this also proved to be particularly resistant to attempts to extinguish the fire.

In another forum I am then on the app "Trash It!"(Freeware). So also download this software and start it. After entering the admin password, it offers two options for deleting the trash: Fast and Really Stuck.

Trash it dialogue

The "Fast" version didn't help, but the "Really Stuck" button actually swept away the last folder in the trash. Thanks to the developer of "Trash it!".

Update 13.2.2017: Meanwhile I use the software "Clean My Mac 3"to empty my trash without errors. The program costs something, but it also offers many other functions that I use to regularly clean my hard drive and free up space.

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  1. Uwe says:

    I bought a cocktail license for Mojave in March. After the update to Catalina, this version no longer ran as advertised. So I ordered a new license 2 days ago. I was very surprised that I got a license for Mojave again. So I immediately made a request regarding conversion and asked again today. I have not yet received an answer. A Catalina version is offered for download, albeit a beta.

    When ordering and checking out I could not find any indication that you "only" acquire a Mojave license.

    That's not serious for me, I guess I can ignore the almost 22 euros.
    At the moment I can only advise against buying it if you are using Catalina. If nothing more happens on the part of the provider, I will spread it accordingly.

  2. Uwe says:

    Take back my previous comment. The support is much faster. The license acquired also applies to Catalina. I still can't start the program, obviously if you choose the beta download you only get a version for Mojave. But time will solve that. I therefore ask you to delete the comment. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    • sir appleot says:

      No problem ... this is what the comments are for, so you can report problems. But I am pleased that you will remember Cocktail as a good program. : D

  3. Ralph says:

    Cocktail & Co is one of those programs where you don't know what it's doing. I have been careful since Onyx. The best thing is still TinkerTool System. Transparent and well documented. A little more complicated and less colorful.

    If I remember correctly, you cannot delete the previous system in Catalina, but only make it invisible in recovery mode with the SIP switched off.

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Ralph! TinkerTool, OnyX and Cocktail actually do different things. With TinkerTool you can change system settings that you normally cannot find under the options under "System Settings" and OnyX and Cocktail are more for optimizing the system or removing rubbish. But you're right: only the programmers know what exactly happens in the background with all the optimization tools. For this reason, it never hurts to have a backup on the heap before you click your way through these programs and try out all possible optimization ideas.

  4. Ralph says:

    With TinkerTool you can do a lot more. Of course, tidy up too. Primarily. 11 euros every couple of years is fair.

    In general, I don't believe in optimization tools. They do more harm than they help. The Mac has everything on board. The more such a thing is advertised, the more skeptical one should be. It is not for nothing that MacKeeper is the No. 1 malware in this area.

    If then there is a license policy that understands every upgrade as a license to print money, I say very clearly: dubious - hands off. In this area in particular, there are so many good open source solutions that it cannot be said that quality is worth the money.

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Ralph! Which menu item do you use to tidy up your Mac in TinkerTool? I just looked in and clicked my way through, but somehow that doesn't fit the topic of "freeing up space on the hard drive". But maybe I just missed it ...

      Because of the optimization tools: I just have different experiences. I know that a lot of people hate these programs and with MacKeeper you named a candidate that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. However, there are a few good ones too. But no matter: if you don't want to use something like that, you don't have to do it. I like to use one or the other and it definitely helps me to save disk space or to clear all caches if the Mac causes problems. That helped me here and there.

      • Ralph says:

        Servus - there are two TinkerTools - one for free and the one with a system in its name. In the latter, you can clean up all sorts of caches, everything that's under the hood and, above all, remove corpses of files from the system to the network. I like to use it, for example, with font problems that can really slow down a system.

        Calling MacKeeper malware is actually a euphemism. The thing is already virus-like, loads around 50 programs and thus authorizations.
        Actually, it is the official Mac virus.
        And since I don't know which software authors I don't know have copied something from this virus, I'm GAAANNZ cautious. Because every optimization tool needs special rights, as it works under the hood of macOS. But that undermines Apple's entire security architecture and takes it to the point of absurdity.
        If the program clearly documents that it uses built-in Mac routines, that's OK. If it doesn't, all I can say is hands off.
        Ultimately, each user has to make an adult decision himself: Does my convenience justify any later trouble or I ask someone (e.g. Sir Apfelot or a good forum) who is familiar with it - so don't rush into disaster and invest a little time. Just for my 2 cents ...
        Nice week :-)

        • sir appleot says:

          Thanks for recommending "TinkerTool System". It's funny. I've been using the free tool for years, but the author is so subtle that I haven't seen him offer a paid version. I will definitely get it and write something about it.

          And I agree with you on the other thing. You open your Mac to these tools and have to trust that nothing will be done to them. I wouldn't do that with every program.

          Have a nice week too!

  5. Ralph says:

    Utilities repair utilities. It can go that far. I tried a CacheCleaner and TinkerToolSystem reported that the operating system was damaged. Reason: the XPC cache was deleted. XPC is responsible for interprocess communication.

    Don't you want to revise the article again? Just trying x different utilities will make the problem worse instead of helping. It is not advisable as many professionals tell me. I also have a folder stuck in the trash. I will only get it away with cmd + r restart. Reason: Catalina splits off certain functions of the system. That is the reason (I save more detailed explanation)


    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Ralph! So far, I haven't had any negative experiences with the tools mentioned. For this reason I would like to leave the article as it is. If I experience something else, I will notice that. But I know that there are many "pros" who advise against it. I wouldn't need a utility either if Apple programmed everything cleanly. As long as macOS does not "take care" of certain things itself and you cannot empty your trash, for example, you will also need help programs. I'm certainly not stopping Apple from making these obsolete.

  6. Ralph says:

    Hello Jens - you see it pragmatically. I'm only worried about users who use something like this without reflecting on it because it's convenient. They then open up in help forums such as Apple Talk.

    I just deleted from the container in ~ / Library because Mail is excruciatingly slow on 10.15.4 (a bug that existed before). This folder contains mail attachments and is now in quarantine. No utility program can do this - not even TinkerTool. The correct way would have been to follow the instructions in Mail Settings General. If there is an auxiliary program now, it fails, but does everything else that is possible.

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Ralph! Yes, that's why I keep telling people to please make a backup before releasing any TinkerTools or anything else on the Mac. But actually a backup should be mandatory anyway - still hardly anyone has one. But your tip with is good. So there's nothing in it that Apple Mail won't restore anyway if you have an IMAP mailbox?

      • Uwe says:

        Yes, that's probably true with regard to the backups. After switching to Mac, however, I continued to use my backup strategy. Simply a must and yes no real effort.

  7. Ralph says:

    Hello Jens, there are the mail attachments in there (and a few other things that will be rebuilt). If IMAP, the attachments will be reloaded if necessary.

    • sir appleot says:

      Ah ok! I think Onyx and CleanMyMac can delete this file too. There is an option to remove all attachments. At least in CleanMyMac X this is called "Remove local copies of mail attachments and downloads". That should be it, I think.

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