How to Fix Error Code -36 When Copying Files in Finder App

Have you encountered such a Mac Error Code -36 when trying to transfer files to a flash drive or memory card? If so, following our simple tutorial posted below to fix this error.

error code -36 on mac

“error code -36” completely halts the copy or move process in the OS X Finder. The full error is usually read as “The Finder can’t complete the operation because some data in “FileName” can’t be read or written. (Error code -36)”. The filename is sometimes .DS_Store, but it can happen with just about any file.

The problem stems from the “dot-underscore” companion files that Mac OS X’s HFS+ filesystem creates for files when they get moved to FAT16 or FAT32 volumes. These hidden files – which start with “._” followed by the original filename – contain extra information to go along with the main file’s data. The problem is observed when folders from a Windows-compatible volume get moved to a Mac and then back again. The dreaded “Error Code -36″ message is the result.

Thanks to a handy command line tool called “dot_clean”, you can simple fix Error Code -36 on a Mac.

  1. Launch Terminal (Applications > Utilities) and type the following command, making sure to include a space at the end:
  2. Select the folder on your Mac that is giving you trouble and drag it right to the Terminal window. A green cursor with a + symbol should appear before you release the mouse.
  3. The path to that folder should have automatically appeared at the end of the Terminal command. For example, it might look like:
    dot_clean /Users/UserName/Desktop/Test_Folder
  4. Press Enter/Return to run the command. It will appear as if nothing happened, but try copying that folder to a MS-DOS volume now. Finder should magically allow it to be moved with no problem!
  5. Repeat the entire process as needed for other folders that won’t copy.

If the problem is recurrent, you can also try to delete all .DS_Store files on a Mac using the command line, which can work as a temporary workaround if for some reason dot_clean fails. That was actually what I had done in the past to get around this and other similar input/output error messages before discovering this specific command approach.

If this worked for you, or you know of another trick to fix Error Code -36 in the OS X Finder, let us know in the comments.

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