One of the most frustrating issues many OS X users experience is trying to unmount a disk image, hard drive, or network volume, only to have the Finder claim that it can’t be done because the volume is “in use”—which really means that one of the files on the volume is being used by some OS X process. Similarly, we’ve all tried emptying the Trash, only to be told that one of the files in the Trash is in use.
Unix pros know you can use one of several Terminal commands to ferret out the offending file and what’s actually using it, but for the shell-shy, HamSoft Engineering’s What’s Keeping Me? 1.3 provides a friendlier solution.
To use What’s Keeping Me to figure out why a volume can’t be ejected, you just type the name of the volume and press Return; after a few seconds, What’s Keeping Me displays any open (in-use) files residing on that volume, along with the names of the programs or processes using each. To determine why a file can’t be deleted from the Trash, you type the name of the can’t-be-deleted file; What’s Keeping Me shows you the process or program using the file.
You can quit the offending programs or processes to “release” the busy file by selecting each process and then clicking on the Quit App button. If you plan on using the program again, you can instead relaunch it. If the program won’t quit, you can kill it, which is Unix-speak for “quit with prejudice”—although be aware that doing so will lose any unsaved work in that program.
By checking the As Administrator box and providing an admin username and password, What’s Keeping Me will search with administrator privileges; this may find admin- or system-level processes preventing a volume from ejecting or a file from being deleted. It will also let you quit such processes to free up the volume or file.
Nothing What’s Keeping Me does couldn’t be done in Terminal with the right commands. But not everyone is comfortable with the command line, and even those who are sometimes forget the syntax of infrequently used commands. What’s Keeping Me is a simple alternative.
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