I tried to delete files in the default desktop picture directory (/System/Library/Desktop Pictures) on macOS 10.15 Catalina with sudo permission but failed.

$ pwd
/System/Library/Desktop Pictures

$ sudo rm *.heic
rm: cannot remove 'Catalina Clouds.heic': Operation not permitted

Is it possible to solve this problem?

  • 1
    How is this a 'problem'? Why do you need to delete them? Just don't use them. – benwiggy Nov 19 '19 at 7:36
  • 4
    @benwiggy These wallpapers are taking ~1GB space and I don't need them – Teddy C Nov 19 '19 at 7:40
  • 1
    The entire system is only c. 12Gb. If you were to remove all the files that you personally are not going to use, you might save 6Gb at most. I know Apple sells stuff with 128 Gb, but if you need more, then you can use Cloud services or a USB low-profile drive. – benwiggy Nov 19 '19 at 7:45
  • Saving the additional 1GB (and now 2.1GB for me after upgrading to Catalina) really adds up on a 128GB SSD MBP. – Willem van Ketwich Jan 4 at 21:52

As a general rule I do not recommend deleting system files, however, if you really want to remove the default wallpapers you can do the following:

  1. Boot to macOS Recovery by pressing ⌘R when booting the Mac.
  2. Using Terminal, from the Utilities menu, use the following commands:

    cd /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/System/Library/Desktop\ Pictures
    rm *.heic

Catalina now installs /System as part of a read-only volume, so it cannot be altered whilst in use.

You can modify or delete those files when booted to Recovery, but bear in mind that Apple may well restore them in an update to the OS.

  • You said "Catalina now installs /System as a read-only volume, so it cannot be altered.", well/System is a directory/folder not a volume as you so state, as Macintosh HD is the volume which is mounted at / and it can be altered! -- It can be altered easily from Terminal while booted to macOS Recovery or from a normal boot if SIP has been disabled and the volume remounted with sudo mount -uw /. Your answer is completely false and should be deleted! – user3439894 Nov 20 '19 at 5:28
  • ... or edited if someone is willing to do so. – ankii Nov 20 '19 at 7:36
  • ... or slightly amended to improve fastidiousness. Whether those actions are done 'easily' is subjective, perhaps. – benwiggy Nov 20 '19 at 11:24

You must log in to answer this question.

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