Problem: A file is being used by another app or process

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Lastly, you can further isolate groups of the files you are trying to delete by specifying subdirectories that contain them. In the command examples above, the single slash tells them to search the entire filesystem; however, this can cause the command to take a while and perhaps include files you do not wish to include. Therefore, you can tell it to only search specific folders by specifying them instead of using the single slash. In the case of the ". To specify these folders, instead of typing a single slash to specify the entire filesystem to search, in step 2 above simply drag the desired folder to the Terminal window when typing the command.

Problem: The file is locked

As a final note, the "-delete" component of the command will tell it to remove the files it finds; however, you can also have the command show you a preview of these files first by running it without the "-delete" flag. When this happens the system will output file paths to the located files, which you can browse through and check to make sure the proper files are being targeted, before running the command again with "-delete" at the end of it.

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How to Delete Any File or App from your Mac

We delete comments that violate our policy , which we encourage you to read. Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion. Don't show this again. Computers Terminal fun: Deleting repetitive files in OS X If you find a number of similarly named files that you would like to delete from multiple folders, the Find command in the Terminal can be used to do the trick.

Trash solution summary: Cannot delete files - CNET

For example, lets say you have a directory full of archives, containing sub-directories and files. Deleting each item individually from the Finder or the command line can take a long time.

So just run the command like this:. Remember, this deletion is final. But, as you probably suspect, you can use the -i flag for protection:. This will ask you to confirm the deletion of each item. When can the rm -R command come in handy? A file might be locked or you may not have permission to delete one or more files. This sort of glitch is annoying, but you can use the command line to provide an easy solution.

In the Finder, open the Trash, and then drag the items it contains to the Terminal window. If there are lots of files, you may find that the resulting list—all on one long line, wrapping in the Terminal window—may be very long. Terminal will empty the Trash. Command line win!

Trash solution summary: Cannot delete files

Want to learn more? See our articles about navigating the file system with the command line , learning from man pages , and copying and moving files. He's also the author of Take Control of iTunes The FAQ. Command-line lifesavers. How to make a bootable Mavericks install drive.

Why bother deleting files with the command line?

Mac essentials: Why bother deleting files with the command line? Here are some reasons: You can delete multiple files quickly and efficiently using wildcards. You can remove files from the Trash when you encounter stubborn errors.


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You can delete files that are hidden in the Finder; these files, which can contain settings for certain apps or parts of OS X, contain a dot. If you've lost access to the Finder because your Mac is on the blink, you might be able to use the command line to troubleshoot the problem. So, if you have three files on your Desktop that you want to delete, and you want to delete them all at once, you can do so like this: So, if you're feeling cautious, you could run the above commands with this flag as follows:


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