Why Your Mac Is Emptying Trash Slow

iPhone and MacBook

If your Mac is in an excellent condition, you expect it to follow any commands promptly. The speed of a good Mac is almost always instant.

But when your Mac starts slowing down, the reduction in speed is easily noticeable. It can get so bad such that, even when you drop just one simple picture into the trash bin, then empty it, it takes ‘forever’ to carry out the command.

Take note that dragging files to the Trash does not really delete them. It’s just like moving your files to a different folder, so dragging files to the Trash usually does not cause any problem. To completely delete your files, you need to right-click on the Trash icon on the Dock, then choose Empty Trash. That’s when your system starts purging all the files you dragged to the Trash folder.

Empty Trash

Emptying the Trash usually takes just a couple of seconds, depending on how much files you need to delete. But it shouldn’t take more than five minutes or an hour, just like other Mac users are complaining of. If emptying your Trash takes a very long time or gets stuck, there must be something wrong somewhere.

If you have experienced a slow running Mac, you have surely typed: “why emptying trash is slow on my Mac” in your Safari search bar. The confusing part is that your Mac seemingly works well. When you drop data into the trash icon to empty it, the popup box comes up normally, prompting if you are sure and you get an active option to click ‘Continue.’ But once in the trash bin, the emptying process seems to be taking forever.

Why Is the Trash Slow to Empty?

There are several different reasons why your attempt at employing your computer’s Trash might be too slow or even fail. One thing you need to consider is whether an item you dragged to the Trash is still being used. If the item is still open or running, you won’t be able to delete it no matter what you do. Make sure to quit all your apps before emptying your Trash just to be sure. But sometimes files appear to be in use, even though there are no running apps. This means that the file you want to delete has been corrupted.

Another reason why your Mac is slow in emptying the Trash is when an item is locked. When you don’t have the necessary permissions, you won’t be able to delete files even if they are in the Trash. You need to unlock the file first before deleting them. It is also possible that one of the files you want to delete includes a special character that makes your macOS think that the file is too important to delete, such as system files.

Aside from these reasons, malware is also a common culprit behind the slow emptying of the Trash. No matter what the reason is, a Mac that is slow in emptying the Trash can be extremely annoying. So what do you then?

How to Deal With Mac’s Trash That Is Emptying Slow

You can start by checking if your OS is up-to-date and if all the latest drivers are correctly installed on your PC. The fluidity of your Mac is determined by the drivers installed, their functionality, as well as their compatibility with your system.

If all these are good, you need to check whether one of the files you want to delete is locked. Look for any file with a lock icon in the thumbnail. If you find one, drag the file out of the Trash to the Desktop. Right-click on the file, click Get Info, then uncheck Locked.

File Locked

If you are deleting several GBs of data from the Trash, you might want to delete them by batches. This would also help in narrowing down any file that is causing the problem. Drag some of the files back to a folder outside, then delete the remaining files. You might need to delete by several batches, depending on how much data the Trash folder contains.

Running a scan of your computer also helps. If the problem is caused by malware, deleting the infected files using your anti-malware app should resolve the issue quickly. Reboot your Mac to apply all these changes and to refresh your system. After restarting, check if you are now able to empty your Mac’s Trash without a hitch.

If the above basic Mac repair steps don’t work, proceed to the solutions below:

Fix #1: Edit the Trash Settings.

If you’re using an older version of macOS, you need to check if the Empty Trash securely option is enabled. This built-in feature overwrites the data that was saved so that they cannot be recovered after emptying the trash. This option ensures the security of the deleted data, but slows down the deletion process as a result. So unless you are deleting a highly sensitive data, you might want to disable this feature to make the process of emptying the Trash a lot faster.

To disable this feature, follow the steps listed below:

  1. Launch the Finder menu.
  2. Go to Preferences.
  3. Open the Advanced Preferences and look for the option to Empty Trash Securely.
  4. See whether or not the option is marked. If it’s marked, uncheck it.
  5. Move your data to the Trash icon once again and prompt to empty your bin.

This quick solution should work well and solve your problem if you had been trying to force empty trash your Mac. Securely emptying your Mac might be something a professional will know more about. Leave the option unchecked and you should be able to easily empty your trash without further requirements.

If you didn’t find this option on your Mac because you’re running a newer version of macOS, proceed to the other solutions below.

Fix #2: Use a Mac Cleaner App.

After unchecking the “Empty Trash Securely” option, you expect your problems to be resolved and your Mac speed restored. Learning how to empty trash on your Mac fast is usually that easy. But if the problem still persists, you can try the next solution.

Did you know, you can avoid all frustrations that come with outdated drivers and incompatible software by downloading and installing one app? The MacRepair app is your one-stop solution to all problems plaguing your PC and this download is certified for macOS. To download and get started:

  1. Visit Tweakbit.com to download the MacRepair tool.
  2. Follow the prompts to install, and then launch the app once installed.
  3. Let it run, MacRepair will scan your entire PC for leftover cache, junk files, and performance issues.
  4. Assess the list of detected issues and click on ‘Resolve All’ for the app to quickly fix your Mac.

This is the best tool for fixing all common macOS performance issues and other Mac error codes like a professional. If you’re strapped for time or you want to avoid making unnecessary mistakes, you can download and install this tool to take care of your Mac without requiring any complicated decision making from you.

Fix #3: Empty the Trash via Terminal.

If you’re comfortable using commands, then emptying the Trash via Terminal should be easy for you. But before you do this, try deleting the files first using these shortcuts:

  • Right-click on the item or items in the Trash that you want to delete, then choose Delete Immediately.
  • Hold down the Option key while emptying the Trash.

If the above shortcuts don’t do the trick, it’s time to use the Terminal. Simply follow the instructions below:

  1. Launch Terminal by searching for it via Spotlight. You can also find it under Finder > Go > Utilities > Terminal.
  2. Type in the following command: sudo rm -R
  3. Add a space after R but don’t hit Enter yet.
  4. Open the Trash folder and press Command + A to select all items.
  5. Drag all the files to the Terminal window.Terminal Window
  6. Hit Enter, then type in your administrator password. You might not see the characters being typed but you don’t have to worry.
  7. Hit Enter once again to submit your password and start the emptying process.

Wait for the process to be completed, depending on how many files you need to delete. Once done, your Trash should now be sparkling clean.

Summary

Emptying the Trash should be a straightforward and quick process. But for some reason, some Macs take forever to delete the files in the Trash directory. It can be due to the large volume of data that needs to be deleted, an overactive security feature, or a misbehaving file that prevents the deletion process to proceed. If you are experiencing issues with emptying the Trash, simply follow the guide above to resolve them.

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