[SOLVED]: Unable to Open Trash on Mac

Trash folder on Mac plays an important role in restoring back your important files deleted accidentally. There are certain situations wherein your Trash folder refuses to open or you may not be able to empty the Trash folder. This situation even blocks you from accessing files that were deleted accidentally and hence you cannot restore back those files. There are various reasons wherein you will be unable to open trash on Mac or you cannot empty it.

Here are some of the reasons and solutions to fix trash issues and access all files in it:

Solutions to Fix – Cannot empty Trash on Mac

Method 1: Force Empty Trash: Empty Trash using Terminal commands

Emptying Trash from terminal is quite an easy process compared to do it using GUI. To do this:

Go to – Applications - > Utilities -> Terminal

Here type the following command:

rm -rf ~/.Trash/*

If this doesn’t help then use command:

sudo rm –R

NOTE: Add a space after R or else this command will not work. Also, don’t press 'Enter’

Now, open Trash from dock and select all files & folders in Trash. Then just drag & drop all items to the Terminal, where you had typed the command. This will add path of all files to the Terminal. Now, press ‘Enter’. This will empty your Trash bin. If files are more, then this may take longer.

Method 2: When Files are in Use – Close all Files and Background apps

Sometimes, some of the files in Trash might be in use by some applications. Also, some background applications might block you from emptying Trash. In such cases, first close all open files and folders.

Restart Your Mac

Some of the applications would be running in the background that use files from Trash. Once you restart or reboot your mac, all these apps would be terminated.

Start Mac in Safe Mode

Your Mac might load some start-up items or use some files during start-up, thus it shows file in use when you try to empty Trash. Hence, you will have to start Mac in safe mode, that doesn’t use much of your hardware resources or any login items. Thus allowing you to empty Trash easily.

To start Mac in Safe Mode hold Shift Key as soon as you start Mac and release it once Apple Logo appears.

Once, done you can easily empty Trash bin on Mac.

Method 3: Turn off system integrity protection

Mac with its latest release Mac 10.11, it has got new feature – System Integrity Protection (SIP), in order to protect files from being modified by some malicious software. SIP would even block you from deleted files / emptying files from the Trash. Disabling SIP for a while may help fi the Trash issues. To turn off System Integrity protection on Mac OS X El Capitan or later, follow below steps:

  • Enter recovery mode on your Mac by pressing Command + R keys as soon as you start / reboot Mac
  • In the next window – listing all macOS utilities, select Terminal
  • Here, you need to enter command: csrutil disable; reboot and hit ‘Enter’
  • Now, you will receive a dialog box indicating thay the ‘System Integrity Protection’ is successfully disables, to complete the process, you need to restart Mac

Once Mac boots up, you can easily empty Trash. However, you need to enable SIP after Trash is cleaned up, for this again enter the recovery mode as explained and type: csrutil enable in your terminal command line. After completion, reboot your Mac.

Method 4: Unlock File permissions

Sometimes, you may not have proper permissions to delete the files. So, first check if your file is locked, if so unlock the files. For this, just right-click file and hit ‘Get Info’. If the ‘Locked’ option is checked, then uncheck the option to unlock the file.

Solutions to Fix – Cannot Open / Access Trash on Mac:

Solution 1: Open Trash from terminal

To open trash from terminal go to:   Applications - > Utilities -> Terminal

Here Type:

  • ls -al ~/.Trash - To open trash of current User
  • sudo ls -al /Users/*/.Trash -  To open Trash of all Users – Login admin account
  • sudo sh -c 'ls -al /Volumes/*/.Trashes/*/' -  If you want to access Trash of even the external volumes

Solution 2: Restore Files from not opening Trash or from emptied Trash – Remo Recover

The above steps may not help in accessing file on trash. When you empty Trash, you lose your deleted files. In case you are looking for a solution to restore back your files from inaccessible Trash folder or emptied Trash then you need to run Remo Recover Mac tool.

Remo Recover is an easy-to-use tool that lets you recover your deleted files & folders from Trash in simple steps. Whether you Trash is corrupt and unable to access files in it or emptied Trash, Remo Recover will help you recover files back. Not just any common files, you can also use this tool to recover photos from empty trash on mac.

Mac OS supported: Mac OS X and above including, Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave and Catalina

Its friendly interface makes the recovery simple. Even though the recovery process involves rigorous scanning, the Remo Mac File recovery tool takes care of everything and you just have to perform several clicks. Follow the below steps to recover deleted files from Mac Trash.

How to recover back deleted files from Mac Emptied Trash?

Step 1: Download Remo Recover Mac on your Mac computer and install it

download now

macOS - Catalina
mac OS - Mojave

Step 2: Launch the tool and From the Main screen select ‘Recover Files’ Option

Select Recover Files

Step 3: Now, click on “Recover Deleted Files” option

Select Recover Deleted Files

Step 4: List of all available drives will be shown, select the one from which you need to recover files

Select Volume

Step 5: Software begins scanning process and lists them
Step 6: Preview the files using ‘Preview’ option and enable the full-version to save the required one’s at any location of your choice

So, Remo Recover Mac will help you restore back all deleted files or lost files from Trash. Hope the above solutions help you access your Mac Trash folder that is corrupt.

[SOLVED]: Unable to Open Trash on Mac was last modified: August 31st, 2020 by John Harris

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