Undeletable file

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Operating Systems OS X (Apple) Undeletable file
# 1  
Old 07-18-2019
Undeletable file


I'm trying to delete a file with a weird name from within Terminal on a Mac.
It's a very old file (1992) with null characters in the name: ␀␀Word Finder® Plus™.

Here are some examples of what I've tried:

12FX009:5 dpontius$ ls
␀␀Word Finder® Plus™
12FX009:5 dpontius$ rm "␀␀Word Finder® Plus™"
rm: ␀␀Word Finder® Plus™: Invalid argument

12FX009:5 dpontius$ rm -r
usage: rm [-f | -i] [-dPRrvW] file ...
       unlink file
12FX009:5 dpontius$ ls
␀␀Word Finder® Plus™

12FX009:4 dpontius$ rm -r 5
rm: 5/␀␀Word Finder® Plus™: Invalid argument
rm: 5: Directory not empty

12FX009:5 dpontius$ mv ␀␀Word Finder® Plus testName
usage: mv [-f | -i | -n] [-v] source target
       mv [-f | -i | -n] [-v] source ... directory

12FX009:5 dpontius$ mv "␀␀Word Finder® Plus™" testName
mv: rename ␀␀Word Finder® Plus™ to testName: Invalid argument

Help appreciated greatly!


Last edited by Scrutinizer; 07-18-2019 at 03:21 PM.. Reason: code tags correction
# 2  
Old 07-18-2019

On inspection the two NULL characters that you have shown us are unicode when hexdumped:
Last login: Thu Jul 18 16:34:33 on console
AMIGA:amiga~> hexdump -C <<< "␀␀Word Finder® Plus™"
00000000  e2 90 80 e2 90 80 57 6f  72 64 20 46 69 6e 64 65  |......Word Finde|
00000010  72 c2 ae 20 50 6c 75 73  e2 84 a2 0a              |r.. Plus....|
AMIGA:amiga~> _

Have you tried the GUI dragging the file to the 'Trash' from within Finder, then clearing the Trash?
How about using single quotes instead of double?
How about mv '␀␀Word Finder® Plus™' /tmp/testname in single quotes and let the system remove it during reboot.
Are all the relevant permissions set for YOU to read and write from and to the file?
Remember any of these could cause problems so be very aware.
And finally are you absolutely sure you have the FULL filename and not missing, say, trailing spaces(s)?
That is all I can think of so far...
# 3  
Old 07-18-2019
Try with wildcards, -i prompts for each match, so you can say yes only to the desired match:
rm -i ./*Word*

These 2 Users Gave Thanks to MadeInGermany For This Post:
# 4  
Old 07-18-2019
FWIW, I would solve this by doing exactly what MadeInGermany suggests in post#3 (unless there are so many files in the directory that you would be there all day to do it).
# 5  
Old 07-18-2019
Thanks so much for the prompt ideas. Unfortunately, none have succeeded. I've repeated tried to delete by dragging and always get "The operation can't be completed because an unexpected error occurred (error code -50)." The file is in a folder by itself that I've tried to delete the entire folder, but that won't work either.

Latest attempts:

Single quotes
12FX009:5 dpontius$ rm '␀␀Word Finder® Plus™'
rm: ␀␀Word Finder® Plus™: Invalid argument

rename with testname in tmp folder:
12FX009:5 dpontius$ mv '␀␀Word Finder® Plus™' /tmp/testname 
mv: rename ␀␀Word Finder® Plus™ to /tmp/testname: Invalid argument

Permissions look fine:
12FX009:5 dpontius$ ls -l
total 48
-rwxr-xr-x@ 1 dpontius  staff  0 Feb 27  1992 ␀␀Word Finder® Plus™

Delete with wildcards:
12FX009:5 dpontius$ rm -i ./*Word*
remove ./␀␀Word Finder® Plus™? y
rm: ./␀␀Word Finder® Plus™: Invalid argument

Throughout, the little bugger is still there. No trailing spaces present. I find it interesting to see the unicode characters wisecracker revealed. Does anyone know how to use that information to identify a file to delete?

Much obliged.

# 6  
Old 07-18-2019
Oh, it's in a folder by itself. Okay then, how about (from the directory above):

# rm -rf <directory name>

That is use -r (for recursive) and -f (for force)

What does that do using the nuclear options?

Last edited by hicksd8; 07-18-2019 at 04:18 PM..
# 7  
Old 07-18-2019
Thanks, but the zombie remains:

12FX009:4 dpontius$ ls
12FX009:4 dpontius$ # rm -rf 5
12FX009:4 dpontius$ ls 5
␀␀Word Finder® Plus™

Last edited by dpontius; 07-18-2019 at 04:36 PM..
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