Mac Error: "The operation could not be completed because the XYZ object is in use."

Mac error: The operation could not be completed because the object is in use

When I wanted to update my anti-spam plug-in "SpamSieve" for Apple Mail on the Mac today, for the first time in years an error occurred that prevented the current version of the program from being installed. The error message still said that I could do the installation manually by copying the "SpamSieve.app" file into the "Programs" folder by hand.

Error message: "... because the object is in use"

No sooner said than done: I opened the DMG and dragged the SpamSieve file into the alias of the programs folder, which is in the DMG with most installers. Then came the question of whether I would like to replace the existing file, which I answered with "Yes".

However, the Mac didn't feel like it and returned the familiar error message:

The operation could not be completed because the SpamSieve.app object is in use.

This is the typical error message on a Mac when trying to replace the program file of a running program.

This is the typical error message on a Mac when trying to replace the program file of a running program.

Difficult conditions: SpamSieve is not in the app switcher

"Good," I thought, "I'll have to quit the program first." So opened the app switcher with the keyboard shortcut CMD + Tab and checked for SpamSieve. Unfortunately, the program could not be found there because it is set so that it only runs in the background and is not visible in the dock or in the app switcher.

Now the quiz question: How do you quit an app that you can't see?

I cannot find the SpamSieve app via the app switcher. But there is a way to end it anyway ... (Screenshots: Sir Apfelot).

I cannot find the SpamSieve app via the app switcher. But there is a way to end it anyway ... (Screenshots: Sir Apfelot).

Solution: Quit the app via the "Activity Monitor" utility

The answer is simple, but you won't get it if you haven't seen the Activity Monitor utility before. The tool seems a bit overwhelming for Mac beginners, but it's not.

What you can do with the activity display, I might describe in a separate post, but in the current case we are entering the name of the program that we want to end in the search field in the top right corner. "Spam" is enough for me to filter the list so that only two entries appear. One is the SpamSieve launch daemon, which ensures that SpamSieve always runs in the background, and the other is SpamSieve itself.

So we select the entry "SpamSieve" and then click the button with the X to delete it at the top of the bar. A query now appears as to whether you really want to end the process, which we acknowledge with "End".

The SpamSieve program is then terminated via the activity display.

The SpamSieve program is still closed via the activity monitor.

This ends SpamSieve and the copying process or the installer can be started again. This time it runs smoothly and we have the new version of the app on the Mac in the Applications folder, where it belongs.

After SpamSieve was finished, the copying process also worked, in which the old SpamSieve was replaced by the new version.

After SpamSieve was finished, the copying process also worked, in which the old SpamSieve was replaced by the new version.

Do you also have problems with installations or programs that cannot be copied? Then leave me your question as a comment. I like to try to solve your problem.

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6 comments

  1. Pinkus says:

    Hi,
    Thank you very much for the tip ... unfortunately it doesn't really help me at the moment. I recently switched to the Mac and am currently trying to organize and clean up the photo database on my NAS.
    The problem is precisely this, that the folder from which I have just moved all files and which I now want to delete is supposedly currently in use. But it is supposed to be right after a restart (both MAC and NAS) and also an hour later (after moving) etc. And we're not talking about 100 photos at once, but 10-20. I've also tried just one Finder window (which doesn't really make copying easier), always with the same result. And of course, exiting the Finder via the activity display doesn't help either. In an older article, someone once wrote that the best way to solve this is via the terminal, but to be honest, that would be a joke. Via my Windows mill, it works exactly as I expect it to. Do you have any idea why it might be?

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Pinkus! Sometimes a third-party app will access the photos. Then you cannot delete the folder immediately after a restart. Maybe you can restart your Mac while holding down the SHIFT key and then try to delete the folder? If you start with the SHIFT key, such third-party apps are not started. If it still doesn't work, you might really have to use the terminal. But I think it's due to an app that interferes here.

      • Pinkus says:

        Hi,
        Thank you for the quick response. However, I am currently on vacation, but will try it out right afterwards.
        Is there any way to find out which app was / is responsible for this?

        VG,
        Pinkus

        • Sir Apfelot says:

          Hello Pinkus! Yes, this app should be used when the system starts up. You can find these programs under System Settings> Users & Groups> Login Items. LG and have a nice vacation!

  2. Good morning, I ended up looking for solutions on this website. My problem seems similar: somehow I still had a system residue of iWeb on the computer, tried to delete it. Now iWeb is in the trash with 0 bytes and cannot be deleted because it is supposedly in use.
    Have already tried the safe mode, delete with the CMD key, a hint from Heise with sudo rm -rf, but so far the program persisted.
    The package contents show a tree of empty directories. Terminal still means, "directory not empty", maybe there is a hint here? Thank you and greetings from the sunny Rhineland

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Reinhart! Please excuse the late reply. I would be very careful with the rm -rf command, as it deletes everything in the current directory without asking. If you are in the wrong directory, important data is gone. And not just in the trash, but REALLY gone.

      If an object is in use, it could be that it starts something when the Mac boots. In case I would boot in safe mode and then try again to empty the trash. Maybe that will help? Otherwise it would still be the Mac app Trash it! an idea to empty the trash ...

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