If you can’t remove items from Trash, try this

If you are getting following message while trying to remove file:

“The operation can’t be completed because the item file_name.ext is in use”, it means you have to locate the app that is preventing your file from being completely removed. This message looks like this:
You can locate the app that is blocking your file using lsof command. To do so, start your terminal:

Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal 

By the way, I highly recommend iTerm2 as a replacement for a Terminal application. It has lots of cool features: http://www.iterm2.com. After you have opened terminal, type in:

cd ~/.Trash
lsof report.docx

I assume, that file we are looking for is “report.docx”. You can type in here the name of your file as specified in Error Dialog. You will get result similar to this one:

michalo:/Users/michalo/.Trash> lsof "report.docx"
quicklook 11426 michalo   24r   REG   14,2   113386 9311670 report.docx

The result tells you that application “quicklook” with PID 11426 is currently using the file. Now, you have two options. You can either ask the application gently to release the file (e.g. open application and close the file, etc.), or you can simply kill it.

kill -9 11426

After application is closed, it will no longer block the file and you will be able to remove it completely from the disk.