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Trash Won’t Empty on Mac OS

From time to time it happens that Mac OS won’t let you empty its Recycle Bin (Trash) because of an allegedly opened file. This can usually be fixed by a system reboot. There are however a few things you can try to do before a reboot.


1. Close Concerned Apps

You can try to close all apps that might have the problematic file opened. For example, if you can’t delete an MP4 video file, try to close your media players (i.e. VLC or Quicktime) or close the Preview app if it is a PDF file that can’t be deleted. Also check the process list for any remaining instances, i.e.:

ps ax | grep -i vlc
ps ax | grep -i preview

If there are any, you can close these by reference of their process id:

sudo kill <pid>


2. Check The List Of Open Files

With the lsof command you can list all files that are currently opened.

lsof | grep -i mp4

If the problematic file is still open, you can try to kill the associated process id.


3. Reset The Quick Look Manager

The file might also be locked by the Quicklook Manager which is part of the application that comes up if you select a supported file and hit the space key to quickly preview the file. You can reset the manager by typing the following command:

qlmanage -r

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