Have you experienced this bizarre situation where your Mac’s trash can is unable to hold trash or deleted files anymore? In this case, the system deletes those files right away. Whenever you want to delete an item, you likely get the “If you delete, it can’t be undone” message.
If every time you delete a file and it does not go to Trash and simply disappears, then your trash bin is next to useless. The correct way it works is for deleted files to stay in Trash until you choose to manually erase them for good.
Let this article serve as your guide if your Mac’s trash bin is empty and files get deleted immediately.
No Deleted Files in Mac’s Trash Bin? Here Are Quick Fixes
There are several ways to delete a file on your Mac computer:
Pro Tip: Scan your Mac for performance issues, junk files, harmful apps, and security threats
that can cause system issues or slow performance.
- Drag and drop the file onto the trash icon found in the dock.
- Right-click on the file and select Move to Trash from the list of options.
- Click on the file. Press Command + Delete to throw it to the Trash.
Using one of these three options won’t really delete anything. Instead, your files will stay in your Trash until you delete them permanently. This is a way to safeguard accidentally deleted files or for when you want to recover a deleted file after some thinking.
Now, the “instant delete” problem. It can be quite a common and frustrating problem for a number of Mac users. It means that file permissions linked to Trash have been corrupted or are simply out of whack. They make it impossible for the operating system to write new files to the Trash folder, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to repair it.
To get junk and other unwanted files out of the way, use a reliable Mac cleaning and optimizing tool to help diagnose your system and stabilize its operations. Sometimes, junk files interfere with your system and affect speed and stability. Proceed to the following methods:
Check Settings in Finder
The first step we recommend is to look under settings in Finder. There are a number of them there under Advanced, including the following:
- Show all filename extensions
- Show warning before changing an extension
- Show warning before removing from iCloud Drive
- Show warning before emptying the Trash
- Remove items from the Trash after 30 days
- Keep folders on top when sorting by name
If at least one of the two options related to your trash are checked but the problem persists, then proceed with the other solutions.
If deleted files get deleted immediately and don’t even proceed to Trash anymore, then it might be time to use Terminal. As always, we suggest being extra careful when you enter a command there. This is because you could delete other files if you don’t use (or copy/paste) the exact sequence. Expect mayhem in other parts of your drive!
With the warning out of the way, follow these instructions to create a new .Trash folder with the right permissions:
- Launch Application > Terminal.
- Copy/paste or type in the following command: sudo rm -ri ~/.Trash
- Hit return.
- You will find a prompt for your account password. Enter the password and press return.
- This time, you will be prompted to remove files and folders in the .Trash folder, with the .Trash folder itself following next. Type yes. Afterwards, return at every prompt.
- Log out of your OS X account. Then, log back in.
Check for Permission Issues on Mounted Drives
If the Trash problem persists, then you may be having permission issues on mounted drives. Here’s what to do: repeat the steps above for each volume, which harbors a concealed top-level .Trashes folder with separate folders for every user in OS X.
In step 2, instead of using ~/.Trash, use each volume name instead. Note that in OS X, users can type df -H to find the names of every volume, listed under a Mounted On column in form /Volumes/ alongside the name of the drive.
You can avoid formatting that involves the backslash when you drag the relevant volume into the Terminal window after you enter the command for step 2. Here are the steps:
- Type sudo rm -ri along with a space.
- Drag the volume onto the Terminal window. This way it will insert the properly formatted volume name.
- To remove a space after the drive name that is inserted automatically, hit Delete. Next, add /.Trashes.
Log out of your account and log back in. see if the trash bin has restored to normal. If yes, then congratulations! If the problem continues, then you want to seek help from Apple support for them to expertly navigate it.
Sometimes during that supposedly fuss-free time you are using your Mac, deleted files do not go to trash bin and instead get deleted instantly. This renders the Trash empty and unable to hold down files for manual removal. This error means there is something wrong with file permissions linked to your machine’s Trash.
Try one of the solutions we suggested above and see if this Mac trash bin issue finally gets resolved.