I ran a terminal command to delete the folder since it was taking up 30% of my 128SSD MacBook. I needed to transfer some big files to my laptop

Big mistake. I can't login in anymore. I also can't boot into Safe mode.

  • I can boot into recovery mode to try and reinstall the OS, but of course I don't have enough space only 8gb free.
  • My screen is also broken and messed up so I'm using an external display
  • I can boot into single user, but single user doesn't output to external display.

What options do I have now?

  • Reinstalling macOS shouldn’t use more space than the current installation, so why not just try? Or restore your backup.
    – nohillside
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 20:35
  • No backup. And I've tried, it tells me I don't have enough space. I have 8gb free and it requires an additional 12 GB for an OS Reinstall
    – Johnny
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 20:37
  • Running without backup is always risky. You should be able to offload some data into an external drive from Recovery.
    – nohillside
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 20:39
  • I know, I've learnt my lesson. Can't believe I did such stupid thing. How will I be able to offload the data .
    – Johnny
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 20:42
  • I got you, target mode or command line from recovery would let you copy off files with or without another Mac. I’m pretty sure most of us have made mistakes and broken systems, too. (I sure have at least)
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


If you take your Mac to another one, you should be able to either free up space or run the installer over top of the damaged system without needing as much extra space.

This won’t need more skill in the command line to clear things up or have another deletion. Do you have a decent backup or plan to clean things from terminal.app on recovery? You might have other options based on your appetite for more command line work.

Once your Mac is in target disk mode, you can use finder to back up large files, delete files you don’t need and free up space. Between 10 and 20 GB is enough for almost any OS reinstall in my experience. This sidesteps the display failure nicely and should put you at ease while backing up or reinstalling Catalina.

  • Thank you!!! I'll try it out!! I've never used command line before though so I'm not to familiar with this haha. But I have another MacBook with me(also with a broken screen) so I'll hook that one upto a TV . And I should be able to transfer files completely right? Like the file is deleted from the system after being transferred to the other.
    – Johnny
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 20:51
  • And just incase this doesn't work. How do I do it without a separate MacBook?
    – Johnny
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 20:52
  • I would not try to learn command line for this - but yes, rm works from recovery as well as it runs on the running OS. Can you borrow or rent a Mac? There’s no way that won’t work unless there’s a hardware error.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 22:03
  • Hey thanks for the response. I have another Mac available. I'm busy this week so I'll try fixing the issue this Friday.
    – Johnny
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 22:14

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