Apple Explains How To Delete The Undeletable

Apple has added a new article to the Knowledge Base explaining how to delete partially copied files. Appleis Knowledge Base (sometimes referred to as the KBase) is a central location for all of Appleis support documents and other important information.

If youive ever cancelled a download or a file copy part of the way through the process, you may have been unable to delete the partially copied file. The solution, if the file was downloaded in Internet Explorer, is to open the download manager, and delete the file from there. If not, it gets a little bit messy with Terminal commands, as Apple explains:


You cannot delete (or use) an incomplete file.

Products affected

  • Mac OS X 10.2 or later


If the partial file is a download, follow these steps:

These instructions apply to Microsoft Internet Explorer 5, but may be used as a guide if the issue occurs with a different network-based application.

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Choose Window > Download Manager.
  3. Select the name of the partially-downloaded file.
  4. Press the Delete key. If this does not work, press Command-Delete.
  5. Quit Internet Explorer.

You should now be able to delete the file in the Finder.

If the item is any other kind of file, or the above instructions do not work, then follow these steps:

Warning: These steps include use of the "rm" command. Be sure to type the commands exactly. Misuse of the rm command may result in accidental data loss, up to and including all data on the target disk. To be sure you are reading the commands below correctly, you may copy and past them into a text editor for verification.

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Type: sudo rm
  3. Important: You must leave a space following rm, so that it reads "sudo rm ". Do not press Return yet.

  4. Drag the fileis icon into the Terminal window, which will automatically enter the fileis pathname.
  5. Press Return.
  6. Enter your Admin user password when prompted, then press Return.

You can find the new Knowledge Base article at Appleis Web site.