There’s A File That Stays After I Empty Trash

| MGG Answers


Dan writes: I recently uninstalled VMWare fusion, as I’m just no longer using my Windows VM as much as when I first switched to the Mac. I removed VMWare by simply deleting it from my apps folder. I have AppTrap installed, which will come up and finds any additional support files that may be associated with an app when you delete it. I’d said to delete those files as well. I’d also deleted the folder that contained all my virtual machines, too. Then I tried emptying my trash, and instead of it emptying, I got a message saying that the operation could not be completed, and an error code -8003. I just can’t seem to get it to delete.


This gets interesting, for sure, Dan. In general, there are three ways of dealing with stubborn trash items:

  1. Reboot, and then try emptying the Trash again. Often times there are files that are still in use and the system just doesn’t know what to do.
  2. Try Trash It — This software’s got a LOT of tricks up its sleeve, and tends to work very well.
  3. Well, there’s always the terminal…

The command to use in the Terminal would be:

rm -r ~/.Trash/*

If that doesn’t remove everything, you could try:

sudo rm -r ~/.Trash/*

Be very careful with this, though. rm (and especially ‘sudo rm’) can be VERY dangerous commands when used incorrectly.

Additionally, your -8003 error was discussed in-depth recently by listener Scott on Mac Geek Gab 272. In a nutshell, it’s really just error “3” (blame signed hexadecimal values for the ‘-800’ prefix) and that means that it was likely in use by an active system module or driver. In the end, option #1 (rebooting and emptying the trash again) would likely have been the quick solution here.

This question was originally answered on MGG 270: Your Questions Answered and Your Tips Shared

About MGG Answers:

Each week Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun provide some great troubleshooting advice to listeners of the Mac Geek Gab podcast. Here with MGG Answers we share some of those tips with the rest of the world!

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I found on stubborn files, if I secure empty trash, then the trash does empty.  While I cannot guarantee this everytime, it has yet to fail me for the last several years.


I had a file and directory in the Trash that I could not delete.
I did empty secure.
I did Terminal commands.
I called Apple and spent an hour on the phone with a support tech.
Nothing worked.

Then I purchased Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner. Boom! File gone.


Did folks try option empty trash ?

Usually works for locked files…

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