That's the message I'm getting when trying to empty the trash. To my knowledge, almost all of this is just old backups from an external drive, even though the message seems to imply I've been rooting around (no pun intended) in operating system files.


Any clue what this message means?

  • 1
    Please show us the output of xattr ~/.Trash/* ~/.Trash/.* | grep rootless
    – bot47
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 16:59
  • 1
    Wow - well done if you managed to perform that action. On the surface it means your protection is messed up since you shouldn't be able to get anything SIP protected in the trash the first place. What are you looking for -instructions to disable SIP? How to look in trash for extended attributes? Something else like confirmation that this is just a bug?
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 17:47
  • I have to correct myself and ask for the output of xattr -r ~/.Trash/* ~/.Trash/.* | grep rootless.
    – bot47
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 18:25
  • use "sudo rmdir [path of the directory in trash]" in terminal if it's a directory or use "sudo rm -r [path of the file in trash]" if it's a file
    – Harcker
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 20:55
  • Old backups are protected by SIP. Those are the files being mentioned.
    – NoahL
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 4:19

2 Answers 2

sudo rm -rf /Volumes/ExternalDrive/.Trashes/

Replace "ExternalDrive" with the actual name of your external drive. Be careful using the rm command and make sure the path to the External Drive is correct.


I ran into this trying to delete old backups. I resolved this by going into Trash, right-click Backups.db, Put back. Then following: How can I manually delete old backups to free space for Time Machine? (sudo tmutil delete /Volumes/<drive>/Backups.backupdb/<backup>)


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