I want to free up some space on my hard drive by deleting things and I found that 2GB were being used just on desktop backgrounds. I don't particularly care what my desktop background is so I'd like to delete these files.

Unfortunately, no matter what I try, I can't seem to delete these files.

Things I've tried:

  • sudo rm ./*
  • deleting them through finder
  • chflags nouchg location/nameoffile.extension - i.e. unlocking the file
  • giving Terminal Full Disk Access

How can I delete these files?


Update: My version of macOS is 10.15.3

  • Without knowing the exact version of macOS you're running, I'd assume you are running into SIP protections. Restart into Recovery Mode, open Terminal, and enter: csrutil disable then reboot the Mac.
    – da4
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 17:13
  • sudo rm ./* is very dangerous. Make sure you're in the correct directory. Then make sure again. BTW, where are these desktop backgrounds stored?
    – lhf
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 11:19
  • @lhf they're in /System/Library/Desktop Pictures
    – Swarmp
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


Okay I think I've figured it out. This was the recipe that worked:

Delete the Files

  • Reboot into recovery mode
  • Open the Terminal from the "Utilities" menu
  • csrutil disable as suggested by da4 (thanks!)
  • Reboot
  • mount -uw / i.e. mount the filesystem as writable
  • sudo rm -r "/System/Library/Desktop Pictures"/*

Restore System Integrity Protection

  • Reboot into recovery mode again
  • Open the Terminal from the "Utilities" menu
  • csrutil enable
  • Reboot
  • Aren't there any subfolders? There is a Solid Colors subfolder in High Sierra.
    – lhf
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 12:36
  • I figure if they've made it this far they'll be able to figure out the rest :)
    – Swarmp
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 13:04
  • Let's play safe :-)
    – nohillside
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 13:36
  • There is absolutely no need to go through all of this rigmarole to achieve the goal! Simply boot to macOS Recovery and in Terminal from there, run, e.g., rm -r "/Volumes/Macintosh HD/System/Library/Desktop Pictures"/* and then reboot. Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 13:48
  • @user3439894 Nice, way easier. So what's the best practice here, since that's fairly different from the current answer? Should I add an edit with that as the new proposed solution on top of the old solution? Completely replace the current answer? Thanks.
    – Swarmp
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 14:35

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