Mac OS X 10.2: Cannot delete an incomplete copy or download

You may not be able to delete a "partial" file, such as an incomplete download, or any incompletely copied file that appears with a generic icon. This document applies to Mac OS X 10.2 through 10.2.8.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

These steps may help if you:

  • cannot delete (or use) an incomplete file. An alert message may appear:

    "The item (file name) is being used by another task right now. Try again when the other task is complete."
  • cannot move the file to the Trash
  • If the partial file is a download

These instructions apply to Microsoft Internet Explorer 5, but may be used as a guide if the issue occurs with a different application.

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. From the Window menu, choose Download Manager.
  3. Select the name of the partially-downloaded file.
  4. Press the Delete key. If this does not work, press Command-Delete.
  5. Quit Internet Explorer.

You should now be able to delete the file in the Finder.

If the item is any other kind of file, or the above instructions do not work

  1. Rename the file to "remove.rtf"
  2. Open TextEdit (/Applications/TextEdit)
  3. From the File menu, choose Save As
  4. Select the location where the file is located
  5. Type: "remove" in the Save As field
  6. Click Save, then Replace
  7. Quit TextEdit
  8. Drag remove.rtf to the Trash


If the issue persists, quit open applications, which are marked in the Dock with a small triangle (you cannot quit the Finder). Repeat the above steps.

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