Macos – How to delete empty folders in Mac OS X


I would like to delete all empty folders on an external disk. How can I do this?

Best Answer

First of all note that deleting empty directories usually isn't necessary. Some services or applications might even need certain directories to exist. Be aware of what you're doing.

You can list empty folders with find, when run from

find . -type d -empty

By default find lists files and folders, but here, -type d restricts it to directories, and the -empty option shows only empty directories. This will recurse all folders descending from your home directory (/Users/your-username/ or short, ~). To expand this to your entire filesystem, use:

find / -type d -empty

Here, / signifies the root of your Mac OS X file system. You can of course use any other starting point as well, for example your external disk mounted under /Volumes/your-disk-name;

find /Volumes/your-disk-name -type d -empty

Now, if you want to delete whatever find outputs, simply append -delete, like so:

find . -type d -empty -delete

Note: This will not ask for confirmation. It'll delete all the directories it can, i.e. the ones where you have permissions to delete. They will not be moved to the trash but gone forever. If you want to be asked before removal, change the command to something like the following:

find . -type d -empty -exec rm -ri '{}' \;