Flash drive won't reclaim free space from deleted files.
May 9, 2007 5:21 PM   Subscribe

My usb thumb drives won't reclaim space from deleted files (in OS X)

I have a first gen iPod Shuffle and a 1g usb flash drive that won't "get back" free space when I delete files. The iPod works fine when I'm just using it for music, but gets this problem when I use it to store files. Reformatting them gives me the space back, and I can fill them up fine, but the free space never comes back. The iPod has been acting like this for months; the flash drive just started doing this 2 or 3 days ago. I'm running 10.4.9.
posted by tylermoody to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
have you tried empyting the trash?
posted by neilkod at 5:23 PM on May 9, 2007

Mac OS is a bit confusing on this. When you have external drives plugged in, with deleted files on them, it shows your trash as full. Until you empty it, the space on those external drives remains occupied.
posted by sindark at 5:31 PM on May 9, 2007

sindark: awesome. great answer. Is there any way to get rid of this usb trash if I'm using the drive in Windows? It's my home-away-from-home when I'm on campus computers (primarily Windows).
posted by tylermoody at 5:33 PM on May 9, 2007

Yes. I think when you look at the drive in Windows (or Linux, or anything else), there should be a bunch of extra files on there, possibly invisible depending on how your file browser is set up. One of them should be a folder called ".Trashes" (I'm saying this from memory so I don't know if it's ".Trash" or the plural, but just look for it.) If you delete the contents of that folder, you should get your space back.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:50 PM on May 9, 2007

But don't forget to empty the Windows Recycle Bin after doing that, or you'll be back at square 1 :-)

At least on Windows, you can delete a file immediately, bypassing the Recycle Bin, by holding down the Shift key in conjunction with the final key or click that does the deletion. For example, if you click a file to highlight it, then tap the Delete key, it will go to the Recycle Bin; but if if you hold down Shift and tap Delete, it will just be deleted. Similarly, holding down Shift while you select Delete from a context menu will bypass the Recycle Bin.

Shift-delete also works in Gnome, so I wouldn't be surprised if it worked in OS X as well.

Don't get in the habit of using it all the time, though. I have often sworn at myself for shift-deleting the wrong file.
posted by flabdablet at 6:19 PM on May 9, 2007

It's been nearly a year since this thread went up, but I have a little further information. It doesn't relate to OS X, but it might come in handy to someone doing a search, or of the OP ever wonders about something similar happening on Windows....

I have found that sometimes Windows, definitely XP and maybe other versions, if it has the System Restore feature on, that sometimes the system will take it upon itself to reserve some space for that feature on removable flash drives in addition to the main system drive, even though it's largely useless for those. When it does so, it tends to take up much more space than it should have any right using. Worse, the reserved space tends to be invisible, like free space that has just vanished from the drive, manifesting in such ways as a 480MB flash drive showing no files in Explorer yet having only 200 or so MB free. Even if you choose to unhide both system and hidden files to get a look at the folder, you may not be able to delete the darn things.

In these cases, the way to handle it is to go under the System control panel and turn it off for the affected drives while they are mounted.
posted by JHarris at 4:24 AM on March 5, 2008

« Older Ubuntu ate my XP bootage   |   Problem boss + coping strategies... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.