What to do when an app won’t move to the Trash / you can’t empty the Trash

We’re glad to provide help here.

A lot of users have been posting on forums to seek answers of the subject. For example:

“When I try to delete an app from the app folder, but the message said it was in the trash. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.”

See what you can do to make the problem go away.

Case One: You can’t delete the app from the folder

1. If the app wasn’t downloaded from the App Store, delete it in the Finder instead of LaunchPad after making sure it’s not running.

2. If this doesn’t work, open Terminal and type the following:

sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db “DELETE from apps WHERE title=’APP_NAME’;” && killall Dock

Just replace APP_NAME with the full name of the application.

Case Two: If the Mac says that the file is in use

1. Exit any app that you are currently using with the file, then try to empty the Trash.

2. Doesn’t work? Then maybe some app has one or more background processes that are using the file. Reboot the Mac, then empty the Trash again.

3. Still failed? You might have a startup item of login item that is using the file. You can temporarily prevent such items from opening automatically by starting up in Safe Mode. To do that, hold down the Shift key while the Mac starts up. Then you can try to empty the Trash again and reboot the Mac as normal.

Case Three: if you can’t delete the file for other reasons

1. Hold down Command-R while the Mac starts up to do it from macOS Recovery.

2. When the macOS Utilities window shows, select Disk Utility and click Continue.

3. In Disk Utility, select the disk containing the file that you’re trying to delete. Then use the First Aid feature of Disk Utility to repair that disk.

4. Close Disk Utility, then reboot the Mac and empty the Trash again.

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