why does Trash ask for a password? (Permissions Pt 1)

There are several reasons why Trash may ask for your password. Let’s deal with the obvious ones first:

1. FileVault is turned on
Solution: either turn FileVault off, or put up with the behaviour.

2. If you are using an account with ‘Parental Controls’ enabled, the person who set up your account may have denied you permission to delete, modify or move some or all files.
Solution: Speak to mom!

If 1 and 2, aren’t your problem, then you may have some permissions errors.

3. Check Permissions on .Trash
— 1. Open a Terminal window (Applications >Utilities > Terminal.app) and check the permissions by typing/pasting in the following:

ls -al

You should end up with a long list, among which will be the permissions for your .Trash folder. Mine looks like this:

drwx—— 2 SnowLpd staff 68 29 Nov 15:33 .Trash

— 2. What’s important here that the name after the series of ‘drwx’ letters is the same as your user name (my user name, as you can see, is ‘SnowLpd’). If it is, then ignore the rest of this post and go to the post Permissions Pt2.

If the name is not the same, then you need to type this command into Terminal:

sudo chown -R your_username .Trash

Where you replace your_username with (surprise…) your user name, which is also the name of your home folder (note there’s a space both before and after your_username). Thus, for example, if in the previous step it said ‘root’ instead of my username, then I’d type in ‘sudo chown -R SnowLpd .Trash’.

—3. Now press ‘Return’. You will be prompted for your admin password. Type it in, but notice that you won’t see anything as you type, so type carefully. Hit ‘Return’ again. You should be returned to the Terminal prompt pretty quickly. Quit Terminal.app and see if your problems are solved.

4. If your .Trash permissions were OK, then you may need to fix either system permissions or ACL permissions. To do that, go to the next post.

Related Posts
how to fix permissions (Permissions Pt 2)
‘delete’ doesn’t send files to Trash


About philastokes

Independent Software Developer, Technical Writer and Researcher at SentinelOne. Explaining the unexplainable with images, video and text. Scripting anything imaginable in AppleScript, Bash, Python and Swift.

Posted on November 29, 2011, in Finder, OS X Lion, Snow Leopard, Trash and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Thank you for your help! I was going crazy!!!!

  2. Thanks, it worked

  3. Thanks a lot! Resetting the username works great for me.

  4. Thanks so much – this solved the problem and whats more, I understood it!

  5. you are a genius!! thank you so much for such a detailed and well explained procedure!!

  6. Phil,

    You saved me! Every copy action required my password…it was driving me crazy. With your help it’s finally over.



  7. Yes, I just copied and pasted the command from your post above.
    Now that I’m trying it again (several hours later), the list shows my .Trash permissions, and my home folder is listed after the ‘drwx’ letter string, just as you said.
    I guess it just took me trying again. 🙂

    Thanks for your quick reply!

  8. Hi JMM, what command did you use to list your files? It should be

    ls -al

  9. “You should end up with a long list, among which will be the permissions for your .Trash folder. Mine looks like this:

    drwx—— 2 SnowLpd staff 68 29 Nov 15:33 .Trash”

    What if NONE of the permissions in the list are for the .Trash folder? Does that mean something is wrong, or nothing needs to be fixed?

    p.s. I only know enough about computers to be dangerous, and I rely heavily upon blogs like this, to learn more about them. Thanks! 🙂

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