[SOLVED]: Unable to Open Trash on Mac

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Trash Isn't Opening on Mac? Do you want to know how to quickly access the Trash folder on a Mac? With the help of this article, you can easily open and access the Trash folder on Mac. If you're looking for a way to recover your files from an inaccessible Trash folder, or an empty Trash, you can make use of the Remo Recover Mac tool.

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The 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.

Open Trash on Mac

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

Fix Cannot empty Trash on Mac

Here are four methods you can quickly try to empty your Mac Trash:

1. Force Empty Trash: Empty Trash using Terminal commands

Emptying Trash from the Terminal is quite an easy process compared to doing 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 the 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 the 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 the 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.

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 uses 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 files in use when you try to empty Trash. Hence, you will have to start Mac in safe mode, which 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 the Trash bin on Mac.

3. Turn off system integrity protection

Mac with its latest release Mac 10.11, has got a new feature – System Integrity Protection (SIP), in order to protect files from being modified by some malicious software.

SIP would even block you from deleting files or emptying files from the Trash. Disabling SIP for a while may help fix the Trash issues. To turn off System Integrity Protection on Mac OS El Capitan or later, follow the below steps:

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

4. Unlock File permissions

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

How Do I Open Trash on Mac?

You can open Trash on Mac by using the Terminal and typing in the following commands given below in the solution.

1. Open Trash on Mac with help of 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

Typing in these commands the Terminal will let you find the Trash on Mac quickly. Now, if you want to restore deleted files from the Trash go to the next step.

2. Restore Files From Emptied Trash using Remo Recover

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

Download Remo Recover Mac to restore back files from not opening or emptied Trash on Mac

Remo Recover is an easy-to-use tool that lets you recover your deleted files & folders from Trash in simple steps. Whether your 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.

download now

Mac OS supported: Mac OS and above including, Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and others.

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?

  • Download Remo Recover Mac on your Mac computer and install it
Open Trash on Mac
  • Launch the tool and From the Main screen select ‘Recover Files’ Option
Select Recover Deleted Files
  • Now, click on the “Recover Deleted Files” option
  • A list of all available drives will be shown, select the one from which you need to recover files
  • The software begins the scanning process and lists them.
Open Trash on Mac
  • Preview the files using the ‘Preview’ option and enable the full version to save the required ones 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.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Why can’t I open my Trash on Mac?

You can force-empty the trash in a few different ways. If you can't unlock a locked file, try to delete it while holding down the Option key. Try clicking the Empty button while holding Option Key. By holding Option Key, your Mac will be able to bypass any file locks.

2. How do I force open Trash on Mac?

Locate the Trash folder in your Mac's Dock and click and hold the Trash icon. When the context menu appears, press the Option or Shift + Option keys simultaneously. Select "Empty Trash" from the drop-down menu. Confirm your choice by clicking on the "Empty Trash" button again as a pop-up appears.

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John Harris

Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.

As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.

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