My Macbook Pro hard drive is full. I have attempted to delete video files from All My Files but they won't delete. I also found that several files with just audio from many of my videos are also there. When I try to move them to the trash, they go to the trash but then another copy is made. How do I permanently delete video and photo files?

7 Answers 7

  1. Open Finder and go to your Home folder (named after your User Account).

  2. Find the Movies folder.

    You can drag it into Finder's Sidebar for convenience.

  3. In the Movies folder, you can delete anything.

  4. Make sure to quit all programs before deleting something, so that the files are not in use. In other words, don't be listening to iTunes or whatever while you're deleting media files.

    In some cases, a file may be in use, even if you've quit the relevant app. If this happens, log out and back in, or reboot the computer, then attempt to delete the files.

  5. Be sure to empty the Trash after you delete the files, otherwise the space will not be regained.


I know this is a old thread but many land up here I suspect that have the same issue so I managed to get to the bottom of the problem and solve it like this.

The photos app has its own trash so if you have deleted photos and video then launch the app again and in the left pane go to the trash tab and empty it from there. If you dont have a left menu pane then go to view and enable the left pane menu view.

  • This is helpful advice for the Photos app, but the OP's question was about files just on the hard drive.
    – tubedogg
    Nov 5, 2016 at 22:02

Your computer needs to have spare disk space to do things, so if it is 100% full you may not be able to even delete things.

You could try to connect your computer to another Macintosh and boot it in target disk mode (by holding down T at start-up). It will then appear as a external disk on the second computer and you should be able to delete some files and make some space.


I had this same problem. Tried enabling left tab to find trash, but there was no "trash" tab in photos to be used. Then as I was wandering around the app in file and I found the words "Show Recently Deleted" at the bottom of the pull down tab. I clicked on it and all of the videos I was trying to permanently delete were there with the number of days left before the computer would permanently delete them. In the upper right corner was a delete button. I clicked on it and got a warning that what I was doing was permanent I clicked on it and the box went empty. I closed out of photos and opened the about this Mac box in the Apple icon, checked the storage and I now have space!!! Hope this helps!

  • The OP's question was about files just on the hard drive, not in the Photos app. This is also essentially a duplicate of user194787's answer from August 3rd.
    – tubedogg
    Nov 5, 2016 at 22:03

sorry this only partially answers the question. I have the same problem: my SSD drive on my MacBook Pro is completely FULL - not a kb of space left. I cannot PERMANENTLY delete the photos because they have to go to Trash first, but no space is available because I stupidly made the mistake of attempting to send 30gb of photos to Trash - it started the job then locked up completely when the drive filled up! I have emptied Trash but it is still locked up, I imagine because it's trying to finish the job of shifting the photos to Trash. In windows you can permanently delete a file directly without having to send it to the Recycle Bin. Is there a way to do this on a Mac? (And how do I undo the command to send the pics to Trash? I am a novice Mac user - been using windows on Bootcamp virtually exclusively since I bought my Mac and haven't set up Time Machine yet. I am travelling at moment and don't have my last back up on me either.)


highlight folder, picture, file to delete.

hold down option and command at same time and press delete.

Should remove permanently without sending to trash.


I had this problem. I deleted 200GB of pictures and movies as my SSD was full and it didn't delete. I went into "Photos" and there was no option to "see deleted photos" and there was no way to "emtpy a special trash in the Photos application" as many have suggested on other forums. Ultimately we have used the following solution hundreds of times to solve for customers. Removes all photos and movies. So if you want to archive them, copy them to an external drive or fileserver, then do the below.

Apple has explained that in order to save space, when you copy a picture they actually link back to a "Master" copy in the system and you cannot actually delete a picture until all "links" to it are deleted as well. This is a neat idea but very hard to deal with you.

You can permanently and quickly delete every photo/movie by deleting the "Photos" folder in your $HOME directory. If you cannot do this from the finder, you CAN do it from the shell, but may have to install extra utilities to get a shell.

Then create a new "Photos" folder and re-run "Photos" and it will say that it can't find the "Photos....library" folder and ask if you want to pick a new location. Say "yes" and pic the new "Photos" folder you created in your $HOME directory.

I don't know if you can delete everything through the FINDER or if the FINDER will prevent you, but you most certainly can (as I did) remove the "Photos" folder and create a new one in a a shell prompt.

Hope this help. I have not found anybody else with this answer and this absolutely will work (have done it on hundreds of systems for customers).

Thanks, David

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