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  • sun
    September 18, 2009

My camera says an empty memory stick is full

Guest Author

An odd thing happened to me today, my camera was saying my 1GB memory stick was full, but I had only a few dozens of pictures on it. The solution did not occur to me right away so I thought I would bring it up here.

My first reaction was rather Pavlovian, I must admit. Disk full? Alright, I'll delete some files! but clearly, there was no way my few pictures were responsible for the loss of a full giga of disk space :) I then took a more rationale approach of looking at the memory stick info as shown on a Mac (Cmd-I).

Could it be that sectors of the fash memory had gone bad and been disabled? --I do not even know whether this makes any sense but I did ask myself that question. Apparently not, my GB of disk space is there and used by 914MB of stuff. Could it be that I copied data onto the stick without knowing/remembering it? Apparently not, when I open the memory stick inside Apple Finder, all the directories (root, DCIM and MISC) are empty. There's gotta be hidden files! I'm thinking. Since I cannot find some "show hidden files" check-box in the Finder's Properties (Cmd-,), I quickly open a Terminal and cd to the memory stick volume.

It turns out my Mac had been moving to a local trash directory all of
the picture files I had copied away and/or deleted (Cmd-Backspace) ever
since I switch from a Windows to an Apple laptop. On Windows, the
behavior is that files (on removable media) are deleted permanently. I
learned today this is not the case on a Mac.

$ cd /Volumes/CYBERSHOT/
$ ls -la
total 384
drwxrwxrwx 1 user group 16384 Sep 18 18:43 .
drwxrwxrwt@ 11 root admin 374 Sep 18 18:42 ..
drwxrwxrwx@ 1 user group 32768 Jun 15 2008 .Trashes
-rwxrwxrwx 1 user group 4096 Jun 15 2008 ._.Trashes
drwxrwxrwx 1 user group 32768 Sep 18 18:43 .fseventsd
drwxrwxrwx 1 user group 32768 Jul 2 2006 DCIM
-rwxrwxrwx 1 user group 0 Jan 1 1970 MEMSTICK.IND
drwxrwxrwx 1 user group 32768 Jul 2 2006 MISC
-rwxrwxrwx 1 user group 0 Jan 1 1970 MSTK_PRO.IND
$ du -ks .Trashes
913964 .Trashes
$ rm -r .Trashes

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Comments ( 26 )
  • urbnbeutee Monday, September 28, 2009

    This info is Golden! Thank You!!!

  • Meli Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Wait, so how did you fix it?

  • Frederic Pariente Monday, January 4, 2010

    (rm -r /Volumes/CYBERSHOT/.Trashes) "fixed" it for me. Of course you would need to periodically issue that command. I haven't researched a way for MacOS not to create that trash directory --I didn't think I would need to issue the command above more than once a year-- but maybe the old Unix trick of creating a file with the same name (.Trashes) may work. HTH, Frederic.

  • Taylor Sunday, January 31, 2010

    Thank you SO much for posting this... I've been perplexed as to how my 1GB Sony memory stick could be full... I had the same reaction, and I was able to fix it on my Macbook. Thanks for the tip - now I'm set!

  • Poly Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Hey guys this is very helpful but I can't find what you are talking about, I have a Nikon D200 do you have any idea about it?


  • Frederic Pariente Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    The CYBERSHOT name must be Sony-specific. What directories do you see under /Volumes? (when your camera is connected to the computer, of course) One of them is the directory where you will find the .Trashes directory to delete. HTH, Frederic.

  • Beamy Thursday, March 11, 2010

    I still couldn't figure out how to wipe my memory clean using the command posted above, but I found another website that explains how to completely erase your memory: http://www.digicamhelp.com/accessories/memory-cards/erasing-and-formatting-a-memory-card/.

    Basically, the website states that you need to go to the Menu of your camera and select "Format" command in your camera's setup. (You should perform this with your camera unplugged from any computer or operating system.) The default on your camera may be to have the formatting off, so select "ok" next to the "Format" option. A message will pop up reading: "All data in internal memory will be erased. Ready?" This means that even protected files will be deleted and your memory stick will be restored to its original state. If you select ok, then you've officially cleaned your memory card!

    If you cannot find the "Format" option in your camera, locate your camera's User's Guide or look for the User's Guide online. \*\*My camera is a Sony Cybershot and I have a SanDisk Memory Stick Pro Duo, so the terminology may differ from camera to camera.\*\* Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Lirzy Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Amazing. I was getting very annoyed by this problem, thank you so much for posting

  • tanny Friday, April 16, 2010

    Beamy thank you so much could not have been any easier

  • BB Thursday, July 29, 2010

    Thank You SO much!!! You are a lifesaver!

  • Jamie Friday, March 25, 2011

    Thank you so much!

  • guest Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    I'm sorry I feel so ignorant, but I have a mac and my info of my memory stick looks very similar to the picture posted but I don't understand what you did to fix the problem.... "I quickly open a Terminal and cd to the memory stick volume" makes no sense to me.

    Thanks for your help!

  • Openomics Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Terminal is a utility found under /Applications/Utilities. Under Finder, the shortcut Cmd-Shift-U brings you there. It may be in your Dock already, it is for me. Double-click the icon to start it. At the prompt, type the following commands : cd /Volumes (then type Enter); ls (the type Enter). You should see there a directory name for your camera. You can "cd" into it and use the commands in the blog text above.

  • Taj Monday, August 15, 2011

    Much appreciated guys. This has been extremely helpful, I was able to do it from the cam :)

  • britgal Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Thank You!!!!!!!! That was driving me crazy!

  • guest Friday, December 2, 2011

    You would not believe how much this helped me! Thanks so much :)

  • Mandus Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Great! Another solution is to download CleanMyMac, and it will automatically ask you if you want to delete the junk files or not.

  • guest Friday, March 9, 2012

    Beamy, THANK YOU so much!!!! It definitely helped!!!

  • guest Friday, July 20, 2012

    Thanks so much! It's exactly what happened, it was driving me crazy!

  • guest Saturday, November 3, 2012

    Hi I have a cybershot camera with a 16gb memory stick but it only lets me take 8 pictures then says memory full I tried what u suggested with formatting it yet its still the same help!!!!

  • Openomics Sunday, November 4, 2012

    What is the output of "ls -la" and "du -ks" performed on your memory stick from the Mac Terminal?

  • guest Monday, December 3, 2012

    YAY!! Who would have guessed just using my camera's menu to format the camera made that much of a difference!! The "shortcut" on Nikon to format doesn't erase the disk... :-)

  • Rae Saturday, July 27, 2013

    Thanks so much!! The format function on my camera worked!!

    Saved me in a pinch while on a video shoot!

  • guest Saturday, September 7, 2013

    When I go to utilities--> Terminal, this below is all I saw:

    Last login: Sat Sep 7 15:29:10 on ttys000

    GH-Mac-Air:~ Gillian$

    I did try typing in "cd /Volumes"

    But I did not get to the digital camera directory as suggested.

    I am connecting my DSC to my mac.

    What am I doing wrong? Please help!!!


  • Openomics Monday, September 9, 2013

    /Volumes is the directory where your camera folder would be mounted, i.e. the camera folder is one level down from /Volumes. List the folders under /volumes with an "ls" then go to the right folder with another "cd MY_CAMERA_FOLDER_NAME". The folder name is specific to the make and model of the camera.

    If there is no folder mounted under /Volumes, it means your camera is not properly recognized. Unless the more recent version of MacOS is mounting external storage under a new root folder, no longer /Volumes. Here I couldn't help, I don't have access to a recent Mac.

  • guest Monday, August 3, 2015

    I went into the camera menu and found I could reformat the memory stick, which cleared all the memory.

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