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The item “image212_tmp1987326278” can’t be moved to the Trash because it can’t be deleted.

I don't know how that file appeared on my desktop but as I try to delete it I get the above error. Does not let me rename, move it or use "Get info" either.

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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I recently had the same problem, and fixed it by opening Terminal.app and entering killall Finder. This effectively resets the desktop icons.

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Sometimes it helps to log the user out, log back in, and retry the operation.

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This is a far more elegant way to killall Finder but not nearly as fast or precise. –  bmike May 11 '12 at 19:05
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There are 2 common reasons for this sort of thing:

  1. The file is locked by another process, common if say you have a graphics file that is currently being edited, for example

  2. The file permissions do not allow you to change it in any way, because it is owned by another user, or has specific ACL (advanced permissions) set.

You can test for the first by either identifying the program that has the file open, or just rebooting, which should clear the lock flag on the assumption that you do not let it re-open all your application windows on reboot.

If it's still there, and you cannot delete it after a reboot, then ensure you are logged in as an administrator and try again. If this fails, you can start to remove at a command line level but it shouldn;t need to go this far - if it is unable to be removed, I can expand the answer with command line options for removal.

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  • Press Command ⌘, Option ⌥, and Escape ⎋
  • A small window will open
  • Highlight Finder in the window
  • Press Force Quit
  • This will cause the Finder to restart and will remove any "stuck" icons that no longer have a file attached to them.
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Just curious, why did this get a down vote? I think it's an effective way of using the GUI to killall Finder without the hassle of logging out and back in. –  CoffeeRain Jun 1 '12 at 13:28
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