I went to my Time Machine External HD and deleted one of the backups by dragging it to the trash. Now when I try to empty the trash I keep getting messages that certain folders can't be deleted because they are in use. How do I empty the trash completely? I tried opening the trash and right-clicking on the folder and choosing "Delete Immediately" but it still gives me the message that folder can't be deleted. I'm running High Sierra 10.13.5 on an iMac.

  • How about turning Time Machine off before nuking a Time Machine backup ? – fd0 Jul 20 '18 at 19:32
  • When you say you "deleted one of the backups", what exactly do you mean? Are you talking about deleting the entire Backups.backupdb folder, one of the per-computer folders inside that (i.e. all backups from a particular computer), one of the timestamped folders inside one of those (i.e. a snapshot), or some file or folder within one of those? – Gordon Davisson Jul 20 '18 at 19:38
  • I wasn't making a backup. My backups are scheduled for after 1:00 am. The backup folder I deleted was about in the middle of my backups. Several months ago. – jmh Jul 20 '18 at 19:41
  • @GordonDavisson. Yes. My backups are in a folder named Backups.backupdb. In that folder are several folders named with the date and time of the backup. I moved one of these dated folders into the trash. I was just testing how to delete certain backups. – jmh Jul 20 '18 at 19:46
  • In that case, I recommend putting the snapshot back, and then using the "Delete Backup" option within the Time Machine interface. See this previous answer – Gordon Davisson Jul 20 '18 at 21:24

Of course the problem only shows when I want to empty my trash and my related Time Machine volume is mounted. When I want to delete my trash, I temporarily unmount the TM Volume. And from now on I will not try to make extra room on my other TM back-up volumes by deleting folders from my Time Machine back-up. I will either let Time Machine automatically delete what is needed when the volume is full, or manually delete data using a method built into the Time Machine software.

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