I downloaded a Catalina installer which can't run because I am already on Monterey. I copied it to an external drive and put the internal copy in the Trash. When I try to empty the Trash, Finder complains that it is "in use" even after a reboot or a re-launch of finder.

ps -ef shows that it is not open. It has ACLs that can't be removed, so it can't be deleted in the shell.

In response to "no hillside," I find this rather interesting:

User@MBP ~ % ls -dleO@  .Trash/Install\ macOS\ Catalina.app 
drwxr-xr-x  3 root  wheel  - 96 Aug 10 23:43 .Trash/Install macOS Catalina.app
User@MBP ~ % sudo chown -R User:staff !$
sudo chown -R User:staff .Trash/Install\ macOS\ Catalina.app
chown: .Trash/Install macOS Catalina.app/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg: Operation not permitted
User@MBP ~ % ls -dleO@  ".Trash/Install macOS Catalina.app/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg"
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  restricted 7737578258 Aug 10 23:43 .Trash/Install macOS Catalina.app/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg

That fifth column (hyphen or "restricted") is not documented in man ls

ls of | grep -i Install returns no results

Is there a way to remove it other than erasing the internal SSD? (And hopefully other than disabling SIP in single-user mode!)

Long ago in MacOS version far, far away, there was a similar incident but it was never answered nor solved by me.  That file eventually disappeared, but I don't know how or why.

  • Did you try from Terminal?
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 19:51
  • It has ACLs that can't be removed, so it can't be deleted in the shell.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 20:49
  • 1
    Have you ejected the external drive?
    – benwiggy
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 11:02
  • It still appears in the Trash when the external drive is disconnected. Also, when that drive is connected, it appears there AND in the Trash. Plus, when I say "can't be deleted in the shell," I'm referring to ~/.Trash/*
    – WGroleau
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 15:08
  • 2
    @PtitXav Those are Linux commands that don't exist on macOS. Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 20:00

1 Answer 1


The other question I cited suggests that the flag "restricted" is created by SIP¹ and suggests that disabling SIP (a major proctalgia) or reformatting (even worse) is the only way to get rid of the item.

Interesting that SIP protects some things with extended attributes but other things with this flag.

¹and undocumented in man pages for ls or chflags

UPDATE: I moved it from Trash to /private/tmp and a reboot removed it. In my opinion, saying it is "in use" is incorrect and I'll report it as a bug.

  • Argh! This is a nightmare, Apple is really, really tricky with its filesystem... I'm also trying to remove one of those 'restricted' files, sudo'ed, but any attempts at moving it to anywhere (Trash, /private/tmp, whatever...) just results in an Operation not permitted error... I guess that the only way to remove those files is either disabling SIP (no! no!) or, well, rebooting, entering Recovery Mode and trying to remove those nasty, pesky, sticky — but unwanted! — files... Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 20:43

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