I keep receiving the following error message when copying files, from my iMac and my Macbook, over to my Mac Mini Server.

The Finder can’t complete the operation because some data in “filename.pdf” can’t be read or written. (Error code -36)

But regardless of the error message, single files will still copy over. Multiple files however, will copy the first file, then kick the error message and stop.

Really a pain when I have a folder with 100's of images and I have to copy each image over individually!

However, when I copy files from a PC Desktop or Laptop to the Mac Server, no error message occurs.

I've been dealing with this issue for months and have not found a solution. I get the same message no matter what type of file it is.....PDF, JPG, DOC, Ai, etc.

Can anybody help??

  • Do you get the error when copying files via the Terminal? Mar 4, 2015 at 21:45
  • I have never tried copying via Terminal. I was hoping for a more user-friendly approach Mar 5, 2015 at 16:37
  • I can appreciate you wanting an easier approach however preforming the same tasks you did in Finder in Terminal is being done for diagnostic purposes, not intended to be a replacement! Mar 5, 2015 at 21:31

2 Answers 2


use dot_clean, the directory which is being copied and throwing the Error Code 36, the basics look like this:

Launch the Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities/ or with Spotlight) At the command prompt, type:

dot_clean /Path/To/Directory/With/Problem/

When dot_clean is finished, attempt the file copy again and it should succeed with no error code For example, if copying ~/Documents/FileBackups/ is the problematic directory, use:

dot_clean ~/Documents/FileBackups/

For more info see http://osxdaily.com/2015/02/21/fix-error-code-36-finder-mac-os-x/

  • 1
    We try to avoid one line answers. What does this do? How does it work?
    – JMY1000
    Jun 3, 2016 at 8:55

The Finder can be a problem when you drag huge file & folder structures in the IU.

Try using the cp command in Terminal if you're moving many hundreds of files, as it bypasses all the overhead the Finder imposes when manually dragging:

cp [source_file] [target_destination]

cp -R ~/Desktop/BigFolderOfFiles /Volumes/<server>/<directory>

From man cp:

-R If source_file designates a directory, cp copies the directory and the entire subtree connected at that point. If the source_file ends in a /, the contents of the directory are copied rather than the directory itself.

In Terminal, it is quite easy to do this without a lot of typing. You can drag folder icons into the terminal window and have the paths auto-expand, (and it escapes any spaces for you, too.)

You simply type:

cp -R [space] drag source folder on the Mac into Terminal window [space] drag target folder on the server into Terminal window, check to make sure it looks OK, then hit return. You can use the -v option to have Terminal list every file transferred.

Its worth a look at man cp to see the various options. Experiment first to make sure you understand the concepts!

  • Thanks for the info! I was hoping for a more user-friendly route. I have minimal work in Terminal, but will give this a shot. You mentioned copying hundreds of files might be an issue, but even when I have a folder with 2 files in, it only ever copies the first, then kicks the error message. Mar 5, 2015 at 16:35

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