How to Fix the Error Code -50 on Mac

Error on MacOS
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Transferring files on your Mac should be simple: copy and paste from folder to folder, Mac hard drive to USB or external drive, or connected drive to Mac. Use Command + C to copy and Command + V to paste, or right-click and choose Copy. The time it takes depends on the size of the file/s. A few seconds to a few minutes for individual files, or a few hours for an entire drive.

Unfortunately, this simple process can get more complicated when your Mac is getting the error code -50. This error prevents the files from being copied to the destination folder or drive due to some reasons. This has made a lot of Mac users frustrated because they are unable to transfer the files that they need.

If your Mac is getting the error code -50, this article will explain the things you should know about this error, including its causes and troubleshooting methods.

What is the Error Code -50 on Mac?

The error code -50 is a data transfer issue that occurs whenever a user tries to copy or move on Mac. This error can pop up when you try to copy files from folder to folder, or when you try to move files from the Mac hard drive to an external drive, and vice versa. It can also occur when deleting files.

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The error message usually reads:

The operation could not be completed because an unexpected error occurred. (error code -50)

When this happens, the copying, transferring, or deleting process is halted and the user is unable to manage the file properly. Some users reported that restarting the computer is able to resolve the error temporarily, but it pops up again after a short while.

This error is an old Mac issue that has occurred for macOS Mojave and older versions. However, a lot of Catalina users are also recently being plagued by this error.

What Causes the Error Code -50 on Mac?

When your Mac is getting the error code -50, it can be hard to determine immediately the appropriate troubleshooting method because there are several factors that are at play here. This error can be caused by different elements, and pinpointing the culprit means ruling out all the other factors one by one.

Here are some of the possible reasons behind the appearance of the error code -50 on your Mac:

  • Corrupted programs or system files – If the file/s you are copying, transferring, or deleting are corrupted, then you will most likely encounter this error.
  • Outdated software or system – Not installing system updates means that you might be missing out on important features or updates that involve the data transfer process.
  • Misconfigured system settings – If your source or destination folder does not have enough permissions, you won’t be able to make changes to the files on that folder.
  • Hardware-related problems – A corrupted hard drive or disk can also lead to error code -50.
  • Cache or junk files – Unnecessary files can get in the way of the data transfer process and cause this error.

How to Fix Mac Error Code -50

As mentioned above, trying to rule out the factors that might cause the error code -50 can take some time. What you can do is work your way down our list of fixes below to see which one works for you. This process is effective if you’re not sure what is causing the error.

Fix #1: Restart Your Mac.

If the error was caused by a temporary bug or glitch, rebooting your computer should easily fix the error. Restarting your computer refreshes the system and gets rid of issues caused by bugs. After restarting, try doing what you were trying to do to your files to see if the error has been fixed. If it doesn’t work, you can try booting into Safe Mode by pressing the Shift key when you restart. The Safe Mode disables third-party processes and should help you determine if the error was caused by non-macOS factors.

Fix #2: Eject the Drive and Plug it Back Again.

If restarting your computer does not work and the error is happening when you copy or transfer files from an external hard drive, you should disconnect the drive from your Mac and then plug it back in. It is possible that your drive was not properly mounted or is not being read properly by your Mac, which causes you to encounter this error when managing the files on that drive. Once you have remounted the drive, you can then proceed with what you were trying to do with the files and see if you’ll be able to complete the process this time.

Fix #3: Use Disk Utility.

To check whether there are bad sectors on your drive or if the formatting is working properly, you can use Disk Utility to verify the hard drive involved. To run a disk check to determine your hard drive’s health, follow the steps below:

  1. Search for Disk Utility using Spotlight or go to Finder > Go > Utilities, then click on Disk Utility.
  2. Select the volume you want to check on the Disk Utility sidebar.
  3. Click on the First Aid tab.
  4. Click Verify Disk.

If any error shows up, click the Repair button to resolve them. Once the disk check has been completed, you can try moving or transferring the files again to see if the error has been fixed.

Fix #4: Rename the File.

Sometimes changing the filename works wonders. If the original filename includes unsupported characters, copying, transferring, or deleting the files won’t work. So if you’re getting the error for some unknown reason, you should look at the filenames of the files and try changing them. Use ordinary characters to be safe. For example, if your filename looks like this: file_name1.doc, you should rename it to this instead: Filename.doc.

Fix #5: Change Your Mac’s Power Settings.

Incorrect power configurations can also cause this error to appear. If this is the case, you should consider changing the power settings by following the instructions below:

  1. Click the Apple menu and click System Preferences.
  2. Click on Energy Saver.
  3. Tick off the box beside the Put the hard disks to sleep when possible option.
  4. Click OK and close the window.

Once done, check if the error code -50 has been fixed.

Fix #6: Use the Terminal.

If you want to copy or move files and you’re comfortable with using commands, then you should try doing it via Terminal. Just open the Terminal app from Finder > Go > Utilities, then type in the command depending on what you want to with the file.

To copy the file:

  1. Type in this command, followed by Enter: cp source destination
  2. For example, if you want to copy Filename.doc on your Documents folder to the Desktop, here is the command you need to enter: cp ~/Documents/Filename.doc ~/Desktop
  3. After this command is executed, you will have two copies of the Filename.doc file in your Documents and Desktop folders.

To move the file:

  1. Type in this command, followed by Enter: mv source destination
  2. For example, if you want to move the Filename.doc on your Documents folder to the Desktop, here is the command you need to enter: mv ~/Documents/Filename.doc ~/Desktop
  3. After this command is executed, the Filename.doc file in your Documents folder will be moved to your Desktop folder.


Getting the error code -50 on your Mac can be annoying because you’re stuck with files that you can’t either move or copy. If you encounter this error, you can try the above fixes and see which one resolves your case.

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