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I had a external hard drive in use for Time machine, but now use a different one, so wanted to free up the space. I removed the HD from the Time machine backup drives, then deleted the Backups.backupdb folder on the external HD. Yet when I view the HD’s "free space", for example in Disk Utility, the drive is still completely full without having freed up the ~500GB the backups took.

How can I get that space to free up?

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    Did you empty the Trash? – Tetsujin Sep 29 '18 at 15:43
  • ...or reformat the drive? – Steve Chambers Sep 29 '18 at 17:42
  • @Tetsujin thanks, that did it! It’s just not intuitive... you see nothing in the Trash, so why would you have to empty it? Once I plugged the drive and emptied Trash it took some 5 hours (because over USB I suppose) to empty the Trash, but now the drive has the free space. – kontur Sep 30 '18 at 9:46
  • @Tetsujin Feel free to submit that as answer and I'll accept it. It is simple stupid, but I did not get it, so it might be helpful to others as well. – kontur Sep 30 '18 at 9:47
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After comments - it's odd that it didn't appear in Trash, but generally, Trash won't empty itself so after you throw anything out you need to empty it to free up the space.

Apple did add a "Remove items from Trash after 30 days" Finder pref in [I think] Sierra, but that wouldn't have helped in this instance.

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    I reckon with there being hundreds of thousands of files it might simply not have showed up just yet when viewing the Trash. – kontur Oct 1 '18 at 10:03

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