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Can't delete files from external drive because the item is in use

I tried to copy some files from my Mac to an external hard drive but it failed with an error. Despite the copy failure, I still get a grayed-out folder on my external hard drive. So I moved it to the trash. But when I tried to empty the trash, an error showed up saying that the operation can't be completed because the item is in use. I rebooted my Mac and repaired the drive on Windows but still can't delete the folder. P.S. (The external hard drive is NTFS-formatted and I have Paragon installed on my Mac.)

Best Answered by

iBoysoft author Jenny Zeng

Jenny Zeng

Answered on Friday, July 21, 2023

I suspect the Paragon NTFS software you're using may be having issues. It should allow you to copy the files from your Mac to the external hard drive successfully but the grayed-out folder suggesting that it was only able to perform an incomplete copy action.

You can try a different NTFS for Mac tool and the copy and delete problem will be gone. I've been using iBoysoft NTFS for Mac for a year and a half now and have never had problems copying or deleting files from my NTFS-formatted drives on Mac. I highly recommend you try it as well.

It's an NTFS driver that fully grants you read/write access to NTFS drives on Mac. With it, you can copy, move, delete, rename, modify and save files on NTFS drives just like you can with macOS drives. It's compatible with all types of storage devices, including external hard drives, memory cards, USB flash drives, etc.

Besides, it supports macOS High Sierra and later running on Intel-based, T2, M1, and M2 Macs. It also allows you to repair NTFS drives, format other drives to NTFS and read/write to the Boot Camp partition on Mac.

If you still encounter the error reading "The operation can't be completed because the item is in use" after installing the NTFS driver,  you can run the following command in Terminal to force delete unwanted files on Mac.

sudo rm -rf [filepath]

In Terminal, type sudo rm -rf, leave a space, then drag and drop the grayed-out folder to the Terminal window and press Enter. Type your admin password and hit Enter.

Read Also:

Fix: Can't Delete Files from External Hard Drive on Mac

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