When you delete any file or folder, they aren't permanently deleted. They find their place in the Trash bin, which needs additional clicks to delete them permanently. Sometimes if the file is locked or being used by another app, then it won't delete and present you with errors.
We have listed down some of the fixes that should help you empty Trash on your Mac. The last fix is the ultimate one, and I would recommend you to go step-by-step so that you don't delete something important and then left with a malfunctioning app.
Can't Empty Trash on Mac
Check if the file is in use by any app
If you get an error about “File in Use”, then try closing the app that is using the file (in case you know the app). Alternatively, you can also close all the running apps to make sure that the file is no more being used by any of the apps. Now try to empty trash, if it still doesn't clears the dump, keep reading.
Force Empty Trash in Mac OS X When File is Locked or in Use
In case you are getting a Locked file error, then press and hold Option key, go to Finder → Empty Trash. This should have surely helped you in clearing Trash. The Option key signals OS X to bypass the locked files. Anyways, even if this didn't work out for you, keep reading for more fixes.
Use third-party utilities
There are many third-party utility apps to forcibly empty the Trash folder. If you have them installed, give it a try. I would personally not recommend downloading and using them. That's because they ultimately flash Terminal commands to delete Trash files, which we have given below, so have a look.
Empty Trash on Mac Using Terminal
This is the ultimate step you should take, only if all of the above have failed. As these commands will delete locked files without alerting you anything. Make sure you do exactly as it is written below.
Step #1. Open Terminal on your Mac.
Step #2. Now type
cd ~/.Trash and hit Return → Now type,
sudo rm –R followed by space. Leaving a space is mandatory, so do not miss that step. And yes, DO NOT HIT RETURN AFTER YOU ENTER THE COMMAND.
Step #4. It's now time to open the Trash folder from the Dock.
Step #5. Select all the files and folders from the Trash folder, drag and drop them into Terminal window. Doing this, will add the path of each file and folder to the “Remove” command we entered at Step #3.
Step #6. Now you can hit Return and then enter your administrator password to continue the operation.
The deleting process will begin and might take a couple of minutes, depending on the size of files and folders you are deleting.