Finder can’t Complete the Operation Because Some Data can’t Be Read or Written, Fix

Some users have said that they are unable to copy, cut or paste files or folders and put stuff in the trash back where it came from. They further said that they see this error message when they want to move files and folders:

“The Finder can’t complete the operation because some data in “file” can’t be read or written. Error code -36. Users have further said that most types of files or folders (images, PDFs, documents, sound files, etc) are affected by this problem. It appears that this problem may occur only in certain folders. You may also experience this when you transfer your files to an external memory drive. This article explains how you can fix this Finder problem.

1. Restart and Update

Restart your Mac, it is a simple step but effective step you can take. You can restart your Mac by going to the Apple menu > Restart. Furthermore, ensure that your Mac has the latest version of the macOS software. You can check for updates by going to System Preferences > Software Update.

2. Run Disk utility

The Disk Utility app offers a function, called First Aid, for checking and repairing file system errors. Running this may fix your problem. Here is how:

  1. Open Disk Utility on your Mac:
    • Use Spotlight. Open Spotlight and then type Disk Utility.
    • Alternatively, open it from the Applications folder (Finder > Applications > Utilities).
  2. In Disk Utility, select View > Show All Devices.
  3. Now you will see all of your disks or other storage devices in the Sidebar. Select the appropriate disk. For example, if you are having issues moving files from or to your SD Card, select it to run First Aid on that.
  4. Then click the Fist Aid button or select File > Run First Aid.
  5. After it is done, try to move your files again to see if you have fixed your problem.

3. Safe Mode

If running First Aid does not fix your problem, try booting into Safe Mode on your Mac. This may fix your problem. It is important that you check your issue in Safe Mode and exit Safe Mode and test again. Here is how:

  1. Determine what type of Mac you have. Click Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview.
  2. Apple chip Macs:
    • Turn off your Mac and ensure that your Mac is fully powered off.
    • Press and hold the Power button until you see the startup options screen.
    • Select your start-up disk.
    • Press and hold the Shift key and while pressing the Shift key, click “Continue in Safe Mode.” Then log in to your Mac.
  3. Intel chip Macs:
    • Turn off your Mac.
    • Turn on your Mac and quickly press and hold the Shift key until you see the login window.
    • Then login.
  4. Test your issue in Safe Mode.
  5. Exit Safe Mode and test your problem again.

4. dot_clean

You may be able to resolve this problem with dot_clean. Here is how:

  1. Open Terminal on your Mac (Applications > Utilities). We will use the dot_clean command. However, before doing this, determine the problematic directory. Then use the dot_clean command on the directory in question like dot_clean /path/folder. For example, enter the following command:
dot_clean /Users/UserName/Desktop/problem-folder

You can also first try entering only the dot_clean command and then dragging the folder, file, or memory card icon to the terminal window.

Then try to test your problem again.

See also:

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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