macOS_cannot trash deleted TM Backup_01_System Integrity Protection

How To Fix ‘Cannot Delete Time Machine Backup Files From Trash’

macOS Time Machine iconDeleted 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.

macOS_cannot trash deleted TM Backup_01_System Integrity Protection

macOS_cannot trash deleted TM Backup_01_System Integrity Protection

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:

  1. On your Mac click on the Apple Logo, select ‘System Preferences‘, then ‘Time Machine‘ and click on ‘Select disk…‘ and ‘Remove disk‘.
  2. Open a Finder window and go to the ‘Devices‘ and click on the icon of your external backup drive or your Time Capsule.
  3. For a Time Capsule, search and select the ‘Sparse Disk Image Bundle‘ file with your Mac’s name.

    macOS_cannot trash deleted TM Backup_02_external hard drive via Time Capsule

    macOS_cannot trash deleted TM Backup_02_external hard drive via Time Capsule

  4. 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‘.

    macOS_cannot trash deleted TM Backup_03_external hard drive

    macOS_cannot trash deleted TM Backup_03_external hard drive

  5. Drag the ‘inProgress‘-file or the ‘Sparse Disk Image Bundle‘ file to the Trash.
  6. Deactivate System Integrity Protection (SIP) following this instruction.
  7. After restarting, go to the Finder trash and empty the trash. Delete locked items after deactivating System Integrity Protection (SIP).

    macOS_cannot trash deleted TM Backup_04_remove locked items after deactivation of SIP

    macOS_cannot trash deleted TM Backup_04_remove locked items after deactivation of SIP

  8. After that, return to ‘System Preferences‘ and turn on Time Machine by selecting a new backup disk or your old one.

Important notes:

  • 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! 😉

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Hi there,

my name is Gee Are, blogger and analyst. Blogging is my Passion! I’m the founder and owner of the two blogs called pabst.socialmedia and miapple.me - Tech.Blog.

My work experience as a blogger and analysist (Internet Intelligence, SEO and social media) is the basis of the services of pabst.socialmedia.

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