I transfer a lot of data to my Mac using SD cards from video and audio equipment. The SD cards are mounted as disks (or volumes, whatever you want to call them) and displayed on the Desktop. After uploading, I needed a way to empty the trash on the individual SD cards without emptying the trash on all disks so I used Script Editor to create the following app and saved it to the desktop as an app. This was created years ago and worked perfectly.

on open dropped_item
    tell application "Finder"
        -- get path to drive.
        set drivepath to POSIX path of dropped_item
    end tell
    if drivepath is "/" then
        display dialog "not allowed on the boot volume. Exiting"
        set trashpath to drivepath & ".Trashes"
        set confirm to display dialog ¬
            "Empty the trash on " & drivepath & ¬
            "?" buttons {"No", "Yes"} default button "No"
        if button returned of confirm is "Yes" then
            do shell script "rm -rf " & trashpath
        end if
    end if
end open

I upgraded to Ventura a few months ago and the app appeared to work because there were no error messages, but I recently discovered that it was not deleting the trash. I gave the app, Script Editor, and Terminal Full Disk Access permission and this did not help. In fact, when I ran the app, the system revoked Full Disk Access for the app!!

When I tried some diagnostic edits and saved them, I started getting error messages (described below). It seems that scripts compiled by Monterey did not check for this error.

I stripped down the script to the following which demonstrates the root of the problem:

The following line is entered into Script Editor, compiled and saved as an app:

do shell script "rm -rf "/Volumes/SD_CARD_NAME/.Trashes"

Full Disk Access permission is given to Script Editor, the app, and Terminal.

If I run the script from Script Editor, .Trashes is removed

If I enter rm -rf /Volumes/SD_CARD_NAME/.Trashes in the Terminal command line, .Trashes is removed.

If I run the app by clicking on the icon for the app, .Trashes is not removed and I get the following error:

rm:/Volumes/SD_CARD_NAME/.Trashes: Operation not permitted (1)

and Full Disk Access for the app is disabled.

I tried several ways to solve this problem including the following:

tell application "Finder" delete folder "/Volumes/SD_CARD_NAME/.Trashes"

tell application "System Events" delete folder "/Volumes/SD_CARD_NAME/.Trashes"

And creating a shell script, saving it as an executable in ~/bin, giving it Full Disk Access permission, and calling that from the AppleScript. In this case, FDA was revoked for the app but not for the shell script in ~/bin.

None of these solved the problem.

I consider this a bug on several counts:

  1. Apple should not make it impossible to empty trash on a single volume. What horrible thing is going to happen if I remove trash on an SD card?
  2. The behavior is inconsistent between running the app from Script Editor and running it by clicking on it.
  3. The system should not revoke FDA without at least displaying an error message that tells me why and what I need to do to prevent the revoking.

I have filed a bug report, not that I expect Apple to fix the problem.

There have been several suggestions in the comments (thank you everyone who tried to help), but I've chosen a simple work around which is described in my "answer".

thanks again, to all.

Note: 2 October 2023
I just upgraded to Sonoma and had to change the script. If I delete .Trashes, the next time I try to drag a file into the trash, it says that the file will be permanently deleted. So I changed the script to get the UID and delete .Trashes/[UID]/* as shown below. (note there are many ways to write this script, mine is almost certainly not the best—script suggestions gratefully accepted)

#!/bin/csh -f
set X = `id | sed -r 's/uid=([0-9]*).*/\1/g'`
rm -rf .Trashes/$X/*

Note that if .Trashes/[UID] is empty you will get a harmless error message that rm could not find any files.

  • If there is more than just that statement, is the application code signed?
    – red_menace
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 3:31
  • Out of curiosity, why run an AppleScript to then run a shell command/script. Why not just run the script directly?
    – Allan
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 5:15
  • tbh, I'd never thought about this before, but if you use Image Capture's delete, the Trash doesn't fill up; in fact a .Trashes isn't even generated [though once you've generated a .Trashes by manually deleting, it then stays - just doesn't fill up]..
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 5:40
  • red_menace -- yes, there is more code. I reduced it to that line because that's the heart of the problem. The script/app gets the volume name, displays it for me to verify, then constructs the line for the shell script. I don't know what you mean by "application code signed", sorry.
    – dottore
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 16:30
  • Allan - I did that way because it's a lot easier to just drop the icon for the SD card onto the app than to open a terminal window and type in the command. Also, if I type in the command I could easily make a mistake and remove important files. The script ensures that I only delete .Trashes on that volume. I sometimes deal with a dozen or more SD cards in one session.
    – dottore
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


This is the simplest solution I could find.

  1. Create the following executable shell script:
    cd ~/bin
    cat "rm -rf .Trashes" > rmtrash
    chmod +x rmtrash
  2. Give Full Disk Access permission to Terminal and to rmtrash
    System Settings->Privacy & Security->Full Disk Access
    Enable Terminal
    click + (at bottom of screen)
    search for rmtrash and add it
    enable rmtrash

To empty trash on an SD card (or any volume for that matter)

right click on the volume
Select New Terminal at Folder
type rmtrash

Note, if you have a multi user system you could get the UID and add it to the rm command, but in my case the system is single user and I only use this on SD cards, so I keep it simple.

I've requested that Apple add a "empty trash on one volume" command, but I have little hope of ever seeing it.

PS. I tried the rmtrash script on a partition of the internal disk and I got "permission denied". I was able to manually delete the trashes but I had to use sudo to do it. Apple's protection for the internal disk is higher, even partitions of that disk that are not actually the boot volume. I think that is a good decision on Apple's part.

  • 1
    Why not just script the system to empty the trash? Seems fairly convoluted for the payoff but perhaps I am missing your constraint from the long question.
    – bmike
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 19:10
  • what do you mean by "script the system?" There's a work flow that is too complicated to describe here, but bottom line is I need to be able to delete trash on a volume when I'm ready to delete it and the temporary storage in .Trashes is important. Besides, couldn't I still have the permissions problem no matter how I did it?
    – dottore
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 16:02
  • It's a one liner command line executed AppleScript - osascript -e 'tell app "Finder" to empty' or perhaps this useful tool?
    – bmike
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 18:11
  • thanks, something like that could work. Remember that I need to empty the trash from one and only on disk/sd-card. so something like Tell Finder to empty trash is not what I need as it will empty trash from all volumes. And creating another script using "osascript -e ...." still requires me to open a Terminal window. The useful tool you mentioned is a good one for multi-user situations or where you need to be careful about what gets deleted. thanks.
    – dottore
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 23:07

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