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Trash refusing to empty comes up with Error code 8003

by Alvarezkelly--2008 / October 25, 2009 8:45 AM PDT

Intel Imac using snow leopard

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Have you tried ...?
by italtrav / October 25, 2009 12:17 PM PDT

1) Holding down the Option key as you choose Empty Trash.
2) Restarting and trying #1.

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And ...
by italtrav / October 25, 2009 12:20 PM PDT
In reply to: Have you tried ...?
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Trash It
by johnlh / October 28, 2009 1:58 AM PDT
In reply to: Have you tried ...?

Very useful little utility "Trash It". Never found anything it would not trash. Of course this may not solve the error code problem but should empty the trash. Run a Combined Updater of your OS and see if this will solve your trash problem.

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by Alvarezkelly--2008 / October 30, 2009 3:40 AM PDT
In reply to: Trash It

Thanks for all the help with this problem. I eventually used Trash It and all though it took a while to complete the task it worked ok. Bob Kelly

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Trash refusing to empty comes up with Error code 8003
by Dez Miklos / October 30, 2009 10:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks

I had this happen to me today (2009-10-30).
I called Apple and got the problem solved.

You can ask them to lead you through the steps if you refer to case # 140725683

Probably you have mac OS 10.6.1

Cure is as follows

Shut the Mac off

Wait 30 seconds then place your left index finger on the left shift button.
Restart the Mac with your right hand.
When you hear the chime, let go of the shift key.
Allow Mac to boot up completely.
You will have to sign in again.
As the Mac boots up, your presets will be gone.
Do not worry.
Wait till it boots up again.

When it has booted up, delete trash.
Voila it should be gone.

Shut the Mac off.
Wait 30 seconds to restart the Mac
Your presets should be present.
Put something in the trash that you are not in need of.
Trash it.
It should be gone.

End of story

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Starting with extensions off,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / October 31, 2009 12:30 AM PDT

Which finger you use is a matter of choice and depends entirely on where the power button is.
On an Intel iMac, the power button is on the back left, on a G4 iMac it's on the back right.

Hold the shift key down until the Apple logo and spinning gear is seen. Do not let go immediately after hearing the chime.


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Error Code 8003 Solution
by wernschmd / September 4, 2011 2:33 PM PDT

Perfect. Big relief. Many thanks. Everything back to normal. Essential to hold until logo and gear appear and progress bar completes before releasing Shift.

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Thanks, it works
by lpagni / November 2, 2009 6:15 PM PST


I had the exact same issue, on 10.6.1. You do need to hold shift down until the Apple logo pops up, the rest did work perfectly. Great stuff, I saw few posts in other forums with pretty desperate people, I will try to let them know

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Thanks from me, too
by NSDE / May 16, 2010 1:31 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks, it works

I had to try the original suggestion a second time to hold the shift key longer than for just hearing the chime.
I got the "can't empty trash - error code 8003" after I installed an update to CarbonCopy. When CC automatically sent the old app to the trash, I couldn't get rid of it no matter what I tried. (repair permissions on MacHD; option>empty trash; restart; stop and reboot)
Seems that whatever causes this "8003 can't empty trash error" happens often and is still happening to many of us. (I'm using Mac OS X 10.6.3 on a 24" iMac 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 4 GB 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM)
Thanks for suggesting something that actually works!

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Unfortunately NOT "end of story"
by bartbrown / September 30, 2010 7:56 AM PDT

"Wait 30 seconds then place your left index finger on the left shift button.
Restart the Mac with your right hand.
When you hear the chime, let go of the shift key.
Allow Mac to boot up completely.
You will have to sign in again.
As the Mac boots up, your presets will be gone.
Do not worry.
Wait till it boots up again...."

First, and least importantly, why would it matter what finger or what hand you use?
Second, and MOST importantly, I tried your fix several times, and I STILL get the 8003 error code. I never had to "sign in again," and my "presets" (I assume you're referring to preferences?) were never "gone"

27" iMac Core 2 Duo, OS X 10.6.4

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You did, of course, read my post that followed
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 30, 2010 9:23 AM PDT

the strange instructions.
Holding down the shift key at startup disables the extensions and is known as booting into Safe Mode.
It does NOT change any of your "presets", the poster meant Parameter RAM (PRAM)

To ZAP the PRAM, you need to start the Mac from cold, and at the first chime hold down the Command + Option + P + R keys. Keep them held down until your hear the third chime, then let go.
This resets the Parameter RAM which controls a few things like date & time, which you may have to reset.

Try both of those and get back with us


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by z26gtr / October 1, 2010 6:59 AM PDT

actually the presets that was referenced are starup/login items. example: having itunes open when you login. just FYI. resetting PRAM is a good idea if safe mode fails.

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My apologies, and I found the answer myself... I think
by bartbrown / October 2, 2010 2:46 AM PDT

I didn't hold the shift key down (used my left elbow) long enough on the restart. On my second try:

Shut down

Waited 30 seconds

Held down shift key, restarted

Kept shift key held down UNTIL A WHITE-ON-GRAY thermometer bar appeared (the Apple logo and spinning gear never appeared -- I don't know of it's OS version-related, but I'm running Snow Leper 10.6.4).

Kept shift key held down until thermometer bar completed its left-to-right traverse, and disappeared

Let go of shift key

Mac finished start-up

Emptied Trash

Trash gone

Restarted, all settings restored, ran Maintenance v1.3.2 just because I'm anal-retentive, restarted again, everything back to normal.

Thanks again. I'll keep the sixth finger on my left hand on the Shift key longer from now on!

BTW, I tried "Trash It," which only proved why the file name is "trashit." It made all kinds of wonderful ding-**** sounds and told me the Trash was emptied. Not a single thing had been emptied from Trash. Tried again, same result. Performed re-start sequence detailed above, then put "Trash It" and all related files in Trash and emptied it. It emptied. Sayonara, "Trash It"

Thanks for the tips!

Bart Brown

27" iMac Core 2 Duo, OS X 10.6.4 Snow Leopard

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trash fix
by bee1956 / February 11, 2012 9:01 PM PST

Worked like a charm, thank you!

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After 24 Hours, Trash It Worked!
by cowgirlsf / May 18, 2011 4:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Trash It

I had an external HD that was linked to my Time Machine backups. When I deleted my backups, they wouldn't delete from the trash. I tried everything, swearing, reinstalling my OS, rebooting, holding the shift key and my breath while starting my computer in safe mode, and nothing worked. I even tried Trash It with no avail. Come to find out, I was too impatient. I ran Trash It over night and for a full day at work (a 24 hr period) and when I came home tonight, the trash was empty.
My boyfriend's first question was, "So, does this mean you're not going to curse at the computer anymore?"

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Trashed Backup, But Hard Drive Space Still Not Recovered
by macissue / August 30, 2011 1:40 AM PDT

I tried the safe mode reboot and was able to empty all the TimeMachine backup files I deleted in the trash. However, I noticed that the hard drive available space still not recovered, it's like the backup files were gone but somehow it is still occupying space in the hard drive.

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Trash it success!
by McWolfie / October 9, 2012 4:47 AM PDT
In reply to: Trash It

Thanks soooo much for posting! I stupidly manually deleted all my time machine back up files to my trash, hence error code 8003 turns up! Bummer (-_-) so I gave your suggestion a go and SUCCESS! No more space invading back up files I'm totally trash free! Thanks again! Grin

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by wernschmd / December 8, 2012 2:58 AM PST
In reply to: Trash It

Excellent. Thanks. Worked instantly.

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Similar Issue
by rawru / November 2, 2009 12:03 AM PST

I had a similar issue recently. I found out that I deleted something on a USB Flash Disk and it put it in the Trash. I then removed the flash disk. When I tried to empty the Trash, it couldn't empty it because the USB Flash Disk was not in the computer. To make a long story short, I reformated the Flash Disk and viola: My Trash became empty.

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to cut that long story even shorter,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / October 1, 2010 10:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Similar Issue

just putting the flash drive back in would have been a much less drastic solution



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Trash refusing to empty comes up with Error code 8003
by Jamescuck / October 3, 2010 9:00 PM PDT

I am having a similar problem with the -8003 error code and an external drive.

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by jodecio / November 13, 2010 9:04 AM PST

Is it a Western Digital WD external drive by any chance?

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-8003 Error
by FrankHolguinjr / February 15, 2011 4:25 AM PST
In reply to: -8003

Ran into this issue today. no matter what I try trash wont empty.

@ Jodecio : Yes, I have a WD external . I was deleting backups as I normally do , and this happened . any help would be GR8 !



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-8003 error
by baker_pharmd-24188293512122997218595388066536 / July 20, 2011 10:07 PM PDT
In reply to: -8003 Error

I have this exact same problem. Did you ever get the trash to empty?

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A solution...
by Rcmott / March 6, 2011 9:54 AM PST

I had exactly the same problem... so, after some research, I had found a solution that worked for me:


Mac OS X 10.6.4?

If you are confident that your Mac is not suffering a wonky disc drive, and that your system's behaviour is normal (apart from this error), then give the following steps a proper spin:

Simply open the Trash Window, and you will see all of your files that have been placed into the trash bin.
Perform a COMMAND+OPTION+RIGHT ARROW, then a COMMAND+A, which selects all of the items in the bin.
Then, with all of the items you want removed highlighted, perform another COMMAND+OPTION+RIGHT ARROW.
Lastly, right click anywhere within the Trash Window, and select "Empty Trash"

Without exception, following these steps has always allowed me to successfully empty the bin.


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A Solution
by bartbrown / March 9, 2011 5:20 AM PST
In reply to: A solution...

You may have to repeat the "Select ALL" and "COMMAND+OPTION+RIGHT ARROW" combo-commands several times, if you have deeply nested folders. Keep watching the info bar at the bottom of the (opened, obviously) Trash window while repeating the above voodoo -- eventually, the "items selected" and "out of X number of items" (or whatever it reads) will match up, and you will have selected every single item that's in the trash. Sometimes I've had to restart to get the Trash to fully empty, and sometimes the -8003 error shows up again, which restarting also (usually) gets rid of.


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This did not work, until...
by BosoxMan / January 6, 2014 6:45 AM PST
In reply to: A Solution

... I located all the applications in the trash, did a "Get Info" on them, and deleted the .app suffix from each.
Then the sequence:
Empty Trash

Files gone, disk space recovered, all is well.

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Trash refusing to empty comes up with Error code 8003
by jpeider / March 9, 2011 1:30 AM PST

THANK YOU! Yes - hold down the option key. It was as simple as that - also permitted my flash drive to empty. Flash drive WAS empty as I had sent to trash all it's stored files but it didn't know it was empty until I plugged it back in (Mac OS X Snow Leopard), held down the option key and deleted my trash...

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EASY solution...
by billatrit / August 9, 2011 11:31 PM PDT

CAREFULLY DO THIS (do NOT execute this command in any other directory! do not include double-quotes.)

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by ramoneb29 / September 4, 2011 11:38 PM PDT

It really is common to experience that the trash would not let you empty it. I was just going to delete some files earlier when it would not let me saying that an application was making use of it even though I came from a fresh boot. I wonder what is causing this. Though I was able to delete it by pressing the option key, it is frustrating to see some bug happening like that.

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