Mac Can’t Delete Files: How to Fix Error Code 43

By Jenny | Posted to Home > Howto, on October 9th, 2021

Summary: Why won't Mac let you delete files instead shows you the error 43? This post will tell you the causes of error code 43 and helps you fix the problem with five solutions that users found helpful.

fix error code 43 on Mac

On a regular Monday afternoon, you are doing just like always - deleting files, only at this time, an error message pops up saying that "the operation can’t be completed because one or more required items can’t be found - error code 43."

What to do when Mac can’t delete files? Here, we will dive into Mac error code 43 and help you fix it.

What is Error Code 43?

Error code 43 is a kind of Mac error that usually happens when your Mac fails to locate the files in demand for tasks such as moving files from one folder to another, deleting or copying files, and transferring files with a USB flash drive.

It seems to occur more frequently in OS X El Capitan than other Mac operating systems.

pop-up of error code 43

Possible reasons to error code 43 on Mac:

  1. Finder is not responding on Mac.
  2. The files in want are in use by other applications.
  3. You don’t have permission to access the locked file.
  4. The partition where the target files are saved is corrupted.
  5. The files haven’t been fully downloaded or copied, thus unavailable.
  6. The required files are stored on an external hard drive that has no shared points.
  7. File names contain prohibited characters such as "@," "#," "!," "%," and"^" or have more than 30 characters.

How to Fix Error Code 43?

If you are trying to transfer files named on Windows to a Mac, which employs a different file naming rule, you will likely be prompted to the error code 43.

Therefore, make sure your file has a name supported by macOS with less than 30 characters; otherwise, rename it.

If the file you meant to delete is still downloading or copying, wait until it’s done.

Close the applications that are currently using the target files. To discover what apps or processes are interacting with a file, you need to open Terminal > enter the command lsof and press the Space bar once > select the file in Finder > drag and drop the file to Terminal window > press Enter.

On the Terminal window, you will see apps that are active with the file. Close these apps, then try to manage the file again.

Terminal command to discover what apps are using a file

Solution 1: Force Quit Finder

When Finder encounters a bug that prevents it from deleting a file, force quitting and reopening Finder will do the job for most of the users.

Follow the steps below to force quit Finder:

  • Step 1: Press Command + Option + Esc to bring up the force quit dialogue.
  • Step 2: Scroll up and down to select Finder and click Relaunch.
force quit Finder

If force quitting Finder didn’t fix the issue, try solution 2.

Solution 2: Reset PRAM or NVRAM on Mac

NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory), an updated term for PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory), which stores system configuration, display settings and so on, can be corrupted and thus cause Mac error code 43.

Resetting PRAM or NVRAM on Mac will reset information related to the startup disk and device connections, cleaning up data causing errors. You can apply the same steps to reset PRAM and NVRAM on Mac.

  • Step 1: Shut down your Mac, then press the power button to turn it on. Immediately hold down Option + Command + P + R for about 20 seconds.
  • Step 2: Release the keys after hearing the second startup sound or the Apple logo appears and disappears twice.
keyboard combinations to reset PRAM or NVRAM

When your Mac finishes booting up, you can open System Preferences to adjust any settings that were reset. If you still can’t delete the problematic files with solution 2, it may be locked somehow.

Solution 3: Unlock files with Terminal

If the file is locked, you can’t delete it, in which case you can use Mac Terminal to unlock it first.

  • Step 1: Open Terminal by navigating to Launchpad > Other > Terminal.
  • Step 2: Type in chflags -R nouchg and press Space bar. If you see error code 43 when trying to delete a specific file from Trash, go to step 4. Otherwise, proceed with step 3.
  • Step 3: Open Finder, select the locked file, drag and drop the file to Terminal, and press Enter. Now the file is unlocked, and you are free to use it.
  • Step 4: Launch Trash, press Command + A keys to select all of the locked files in the folder, drag and drop them to Terminal and hit Enter. Type in your account's password when prompted.
  • Step 5: Right-click on the files in Trash and choose Delete Immediately > Delete.
Terminal command to unlock a file

If the above methods didn't solve the problem, there might be logical errors on your hard drive.

Solution 4: Use Disk Utility First Aid to fix the drive

Macintosh error code 43 is related to missing or corrupt files caused by hard drive issues. Disk Utility is the right tool to help you spot the problems on the drive and repair them.

To do this, you need to launch Disk Utility from Recovery Mode, select the drive with the files you want to move or delete, then click First Aid.

use Disk Utility First Aid to diagnosis and repair hard drives

How to run Disk Utility First Aid to check & repair Mac disks?

This step-by-step guide tells you how to run Disk Utility First Aid in Recovery Mode to diagnosis and repair hard disks. Read more >>

Wait while Disk Utility does its job. If Disk Utility reports "Overlapped Extent Allocation" error, that means more than one file is using the same portion of the selected hard drive and there is at least one corrupt file.

These corrupt files are stored in the DamagedFiles folder. If you don’t need the corrupt files, you can delete them.

You should be able to modify files after Disk Utility repairs your drive. However, if it reports no issue but you still can't delete the undesired file, read solution 5.

Solution 5: Delete Files in Safe Mode

If the methods mentioned above didn't solve the error code 43 issue and it only occurs with certain files, you can bypass the problem and get rid of files you don't want by booting into Mac Safe Mode.

Steps to delete files in Safe Mode:

  • Step 1: Save documents and restart your Mac. Press and hold Shift until you see the login screen.
  • Step 2: Sign in to your account and delete the file as usual.
  • Step 3: Empty Trash and reload your Mac.
steps to boot Mac into Safe Mode

FAQ about error code 43 on Mac

1. Why won’t my Mac let me delete a file?

If your Mac doesn't let you delete a file, the reasons could be: 1) the file is locked or is used by another program; 2) the file is corrupt; 3) there are logical errors on your hard drive; 4) your file name has prohibited characters.

2. How do you delete a file that won't Delete on a Mac?

To force delete a file on Mac, you need to open Terminal first. Then enter the command rm, press Space bar once, drag the file you want to delete to the Terminal window, and press Enter.

3. How do you close an unresponsive program on a Mac?

You can hold Option + Command + Esc at once to force quit an unresponsive app.

4. What does error code 43 mean on a Mac?

Error code 43 means failures of deleting, copying or moving files.