Mac Tips: How to delete locked files on Mac

Got an Apple, Mac or iOS tech question? We have the answer. This time we have a reader who wants to know how to get rid of files that he’s tossed into his Mac’s Trash but can’t be deleted because they have “protected” status. We’ll show you how to get rid of such files with a few simple steps.


I have a 21-inch iMac and have recently moved some of the files from my backup disc to the trash, but they won’t delete. I’m getting a message saying that they are protected. Is their any way to get rid of them?


Locked files in OS X are a way to ensure that important files cannot easily be moved to the Trash and removed from the system. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to remedy this.

Delete Locked Files

Follow these steps to disable file locking:

1. Right-click the file and choose “Get Info.” (Or click the file and press Command + I.)

2. Uncheck the “Locked” checkbox.

3. Close the Get Info Panel.

You can also skip the warning that appears when emptying the Trash and remove the locked files at the same time by using the keyboard shortcut of Shift-Option while emptying the Trash (this works in OS X 10.1 and later).

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