After over a month of not running Time Machine, I tried to run it again, and it was stuck on "Preparing Backup" for ages (more than 10 hours). A Google search has led me to try trashing the .inProgress file.

Now that file is in the trash, and I cannot empty the trash. It is stuck on "Preparing to empty the Trash..." for ages (again, we're talking hours). The .inProgress file in question is 290GB, and is the only file in the trash.

Is there a way to force empty the trash in this situation?

I'm running MacOS Sierra (10.12.6) on a mid-2015 MBP. The hard disk I'm backing up is 1TB, of which 746GB are in use.

  • You might be on a slow hard drive or your hard drive could be heavily used by other apps, thus causing the slow deletion and backup. Open Activity Monitor, go to the Disk tab, and and monitor the Data written/sec value at the bottom. As long as it is not in the multiple MBs/sec range before you start your deletion, you should be able to delete the file at full disk speed. Start the deletion and keep monitoring the Data written/sec, the deletion should take roughly (290*1024)/your disk write speed in MB/s seconds. Nov 5, 2019 at 15:56
  • Thanks. I left the mac for a few hours, and came back to see the message that the item cannot be deleted because it's in use. But it is now 22KB, instead of the original 290GB...
    – iNav
    Nov 5, 2019 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


I've been through this one and as I recall patience is a virtue, the length of time is linked to the size of the file. I wouldn't recommend forcing it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .