Mac still working, but Emptying Trash is taking FOREVER

So I’ve been moving data around on external disks. I’ve been deleting some duplicate cruft that’s collected over many years. In the trash was a Photo Library that could have been around 700 GB, a couple of Lightroom catalogues that were large, etc.

When I said for Finder to Empty Trash, I’m guessing somewhere near 2TB of data was in the bin. That action started 7 days ago…and is still happening. We’re up to 1.781 million files and it keeps going up, but I have no idea when the end is in sight. I’ve emptied the trash before, but never when it was this full.

Has anyone else ever seen Finder take 1+ weeks to empty the trash? I thought of doing something about it, but since it’s still apparently doing its thing, I don’t really want to disturb it. The progress bar is going side to side like Knight Rider, so I have no actual idea how far along it is in the process. (The image doesn’t show the movement, which is why I mention it)


I contacted Apple Support and they simply recommended rebooting the machine. I did finally quit it, but in looking back on it now, I think I may have found what’s taking so long.

I have used iMazing backup on several devices and it appears to be the way that the app stores these backups that results in millions of files inside hundreds of folders that’s taking so long to delete. I’ve deleted some from the Trash manually and they’ve gone at a reasonable speed, but even doing Delete Immediately seems to take forever. I got rid of a bunch of folders and started removing the root folder of iMazing, but even so, it’s still only at 112,154 files deleted out of whatever number there is.

Eventually this thing will finish. At least I think I know what made it take forever.

That makes a lot of sense. It’s like there’s a certain amount of delay per file when emptying the trash, for some reason. I’ve deleted hundreds of thousands of items before, and it takes forever. I can’t imagine how long it would take if there were millions of them. :slight_smile:

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Ah, iMazing. The app caused me a lot of trouble with its massive data stores a few years ago. I finally ended up navigating to the iMazing folder in DaisyDisk, dragging to folder to DaisyDisk’s deletion pile, and letting DaisyDisk zap it. It took maybe 15 minutes to eliminate a hundred or so GB of iMazing cruft.

One way of dealing with iMazing backups is to use a Hazel rule to move to Trash all but the most recent two backups. I use that rule and a similar rule for Capture One and DEVONThink (exported, zipped, arhcive )backups—simply to ensure that I don’t end up with folders full of ancient backups. Of course, once you have a rule it’s easy to amend it to keep more than just two backups if you feel you need them.

Edit: Apologies: having checked I don’t use Hazel for clearing iMazing backups but only for the other apps mentioned (plus Bitwarden backups).


I didn’t think of trying DaisyDisk for that. Good suggestion, now that I’ve narrowed the source of these files.

Either way, it’s a solid way of auto-elimination of cruft you don’t want to find later on. Thanks for the idea.