Deleted Time Machine Backups in the trash cannot be emptied because of System Integrity Protection (SIP), introduced in Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. If a Time Machine backup fails or gets interrupted then incomplete backups can result. The Time Machine will be unable to successfully complete a backup until this corrupted file is deleted. However, if you try to empty the trash, such backup files get stuck on ‘Preparing to empty the Trash…’. Deactivating System Integrity Protection enables emptying the trash in macOS 10.13 High Sierra, macOS 10.12 Sierra and Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
Here’s how to delete incomplete or partial Time Machine Backups, known as InProgress or Backups.backupdb files and folders, stuck in the trash without Terminal commands:
How to delete incomplete or partial Time Machine Backups:
- On your Mac click on the Apple Logo, select ‘System Preferences‘, then ‘Time Machine‘ and click on ‘Select disk…‘ and ‘Remove disk‘.
- Open a Finder window and go to the ‘Devices‘ and click on the icon of your external backup drive or your Time Capsule.
- For a Time Capsule, search and select the ‘Sparse Disk Image Bundle‘ file with your Mac’s name.
- For an external backup drive, open the Backups.backupdb. Then open the folder listing your Mac’s name. Inside are many date-stamped folders. Scroll to the bottom of this list to locate a file whose name contains ‘inProgress‘.
- Drag the ‘inProgress‘-file or the ‘Sparse Disk Image Bundle‘ file to the Trash.
- Deactivate System Integrity Protection (SIP) following this instruction.
- After restarting, go to the Finder trash and empty the trash. Delete locked items after deactivating System Integrity Protection (SIP).
- After that, return to ‘System Preferences‘ and turn on Time Machine by selecting a new backup disk or your old one.
- Wait for the Trash to be emptied which can take a very long time. When the Trash is eventually emptied then this incomplete Time Machine backup file has been deleted.
- Time Machine will automatically start to backup your Mac within an hour or you can manually restart it.
- Do not forget to reactivate System Integrity Protection again: macOS Sierra and High Sierra: How To Disable System Integrity Protection
Time Machine backups stuck in the trash are deleted by deactivating System Integrity Protection (SIP) before emptying the trash in macOS 10.13 High Sierra, macOS 10.12 Sierra and Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
Stay tuned! 😉