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How can I empty the Trash only for an attached external drive, but not at the same time for the internal hard disk?

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If you're willing to venture into the Terminal it is possible there as well:

rm -rf /Volumes/VOLUME_NAME/.Trashes/

For only the startup disk:

rm -rf ~/.Trash/

Be careful of rm -rf as it will recursively remove all files at that path without any confirmation.

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    thank you!!! I was having this same problem deleting files from my SD card -- I need to free up space but I don't want to affect anything on my cpu's hard drive. – Jason S Jun 14 '12 at 1:46
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I believe Super Empty Trash will do what you want. When you empty the trash from this app, it asks what volumes you want to do the delete in. It's free, so try it out and see if it works for you.

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PathFinder allows you to do this and a whole lot more.

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