13 Replies Latest reply: Mar 19, 2008 5:21 PM by christopher rigby1
lukenn Level 1 (0 points)
Hi all,

Whenever i plug in a memory stick (flash drive thingy) into my macbook and try to delete files from it i can click and drag them into the trash (and right click - move to trash) but it doesnt actually free up any space on the thing. If i eject it afterwards then plug it back in the files arent there but there is no more spare space. The 'free space' bit at the bottom of the window doesnt change, but the files are in my trash can. I can then click and drag them back onto the memory stick and they go back on instantly.....even transferring 1.7Gb is done in an instant, no loading delay to transfer the files, which suggests that the actual files themselves and their 'mass' are not removed, only the names in the window are removed. Any suggestions? Sorry if this is a stupidly simple question, havnt had my mac long

Any help much appreciated!! Thanks


Macbook 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.4.10), 120Gb HDD 2Gb RAM
  • David JD Level 2 (390 points)
    Hello. The "Free" space you are looking for wont show until you empty the trash with those files in it.
  • Michael Conniff Level 7 (33,125 points)
    David is right. What you should know is that OS X maintains a separate Trash on each mounted volume. That includes your memory stick. When you move files on the memory stick to the Trash, they stay on that volume in the hidden .Trashes folder. You were right in thinking that the actual files are not moved from that volume.

    When you "Empty Trash" in the Finder, it will empty all of your Trash folders on each mounted volume.
  • lukenn Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi, thanks very much for your help!! I would have marked both comments as 'solved' ones but it didnt let me, sorry. Thanks again!!

  • cphoke Level 1 (0 points)
    I have been reading the below material. I have several flash drives and even after emptying my trash, they still show residual memory space being used. There are no visible images on the drive when I plug it into my desktop. However when I plug the flash drive into a digital picture device the old images begin to appear. Spooky. Help
  • Sana Hafez Level 1 (0 points)
    Hey everyone!

    I have this problem too with my mp3 player (which I use as a flash drive).
    What was said about emptying trash once files are deleted from flash drive actually works. However, if you deleted files from you flash drive and disconnected it from the computer without emptying the trash, its memory capacity remains the same (as if you didn't delete anything). And even if you try connecting it again to the computer and emptying the trash, it still doesn't work.

    So... what next?? Anyone know how to free up the space without actually formatting the whole thing???

    Message was edited by: Sana Hafez
  • de sign air Level 1 (40 points)
    I'm not sure it's really the same, but the flash card for my camera has a file in the root directory (nikon01.dsc) which needs to be deleted as well as the individual files. If I don't delete it (nikon01.dsc), the card still shows reduced capacity as if the files had not been deleted at all.
  • LJ-Bettona Level 1 (0 points)
    I've had this problem, too. In fact, I've just spent about 15 mins on line with my printer's tech staff trying to work out why my flash drive was showing full when Finder showed it empty.

    After reading this thread I'm currently emptying the trash with the drive mounted on my hub. Something that no one mentioned though, is that, no matter what you tell Finder to do, the trash will not empty properly if some of the stuff comes from a flash drive that isn't mounted at the time. I know. I just did it.

    While I was on-line with tech support, I emptied the trash. Only, just now, when I'd read this and decided to have a look - nothing had gone. Not just the files from the flash drive, but nothing had been deleted.

    As flash drives are so common now, and many of us use them as re-writable floppy disks (I know - that was a long time ago), this is an important point for all users to know. How do we make it 'stick out' ?

    But, thanks for saving me from buying another drive!
  • christopher rigby1 Level 4 (2,115 points)
    I have NEVER had this problem, even when I leave flash drive 'deleted' files in the Trash without emptying, they are still there in the Trash next time I plug it in, and I can empty the Trash whenever I want to free up the space on the drive.

    But... I notice that no-one here has mentioned how their flash drives are formatted? As I never need to exchange files with a PC I ALWAYS reformat a new flash drive as Mac OS X (they are usually sold pre-formatted as Windows FAT16 or FAT32). Re-formatting makes write speeds to the drive increase by a factor of at least 5, often better.

    So, it may be that this problem only occurs with drives using the MS-FAT file system? That's my guess, and I would certainly recommend that everyone re-format a new flash drive to Mac OS X's system. (However if the drive needs to be also used in a PC then isn't an option, in which case I would suggest that the Trash is always emptied before the drive is removed).
  • ephan Level 1 (0 points)
    I use my flash drive to transfer files from mac to pc quite often. The emptying the trash trick usually works, but before I knew thats how to do it, I would plug it into a random pc and reformat it. That would delete everything for me.
  • LJ-Bettona Level 1 (0 points)
    D-u-uh, where do I find the format command? I tried disk utility but don't know where else to look. You're right - they're formatted for DOS. And when I plugged one in just now, Safari crashed. Don't know if that's the reason (and I really don't want to become adept at reading Apple crash logs!).

    Thanks for the suggestion
  • christopher rigby1 Level 4 (2,115 points)
    I tried disk utility but don't know where else to look

    Actually, it is Disk Utility you need - it is the Erase tab (next to First Aid). But FIRST - if you have any files on the drive already, COPY THEM TO YOUR HARD DRIVE!

    Then, just go into the Erase tab where you will see various options for renaming the volume, reformatting, etc. You should choose "Mac OS X Extended" (ignore the others), decide whether or not you will need the OS 9 option, then just click "Erase". All contents will be deleted, and the drive reformatted for OS X. And the read/write speed improvements you will see will make the whole exercise worthwhile!
  • LJ-Bettona Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks so much for the help.

    I had done an erase free space on the stick and designated Mac OS but it hadn't done anything so I assumed that was the wrong place. Why can't there just be a format option? Is that too simple?

    BTW - I don't have OSX as an option, nor do I get asked anything about OS 9. Just info, no problem caused.

    Anyway, I have re-formatted the sticks.

    Thanks again
  • christopher rigby1 Level 4 (2,115 points)
    Not sure why you don't get Mac OS X as a formatting option when you Erase the drive? That's a standard option in Disk Utility.

    The difference between Erase Free Space and Formatting is this - with the first, whatever format the drive is, you can write over any remaining free space with 0s to completely erase any data from previously deleted files for example. But with formatting, it applies to the WHOLE drive - you can't have part formatted as one thing and part as another. Therefore, to reformat, you have to Erase the entire drive, and that's why the two are separate options.