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On my MBP, /tmp/ fills up with empty files named 0000000011608c4c, 0000000011944a47 etc. They're owned by root:wheel and a lot of them are created at once at seemingly random times:

$ ls -ltr /tmp/0000000011* 
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 09:23 /tmp/0000000011608c4c
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:37 /tmp/0000000011944a47
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:37 /tmp/000000001194c736
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:37 /tmp/000000001195b0a4
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:37 /tmp/000000001196abea
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:37 /tmp/000000001197cd67
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:38 /tmp/0000000011990882
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:38 /tmp/00000000119a2aba
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:38 /tmp/00000000119a962d
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:38 /tmp/00000000119b1c91
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:38 /tmp/00000000119bc041
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:38 /tmp/00000000119c905a
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:38 /tmp/00000000119da295
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:38 /tmp/00000000119f4737
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 29 21:38 /tmp/0000000011a1b60e
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 30 12:07 /tmp/0000000011bd9959
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 30 12:07 /tmp/0000000011be0f55
-rw------- 1 root wheel 0 Mar 30 12:07 /tmp/0000000011be9f57
...

How can I find out what might cause this?

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  • Currently seeing this on an M1 MacOS Monterey 12.4. Unclear why anything would create so many tempfiles in the same second, multiple times. Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 22:42
  • This has stopped happening for me.
    – Atemu
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 11:59

1 Answer 1

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You can use lsof to list open files by their command and process id, and then look them up in Activity Monitor if the name is too long for the column.

Since these are owned by root somehow, you might try the command sudo lsof | grep /tmp.

This uses the super user account to list all open files and selectively filter the stream for '/tmp' using the grep command.

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  • 1
    Unfortunately, whatever causes this doesn't keep the files open, so it won't show up in lsof.
    – Atemu
    Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 10:36

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