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Okay I got one for you guys. I am using OS X Mountain Lion, with a Windows 7 partition in Bootcamp. In Windows 7, I used Paragon to be able to write to my HFS partition, where my home folder in OSX is located. I did this because I wanted a unified home folder (one downloads folder, one movies folder etc.).

After succeeding in setting this up (I thought), I booted in OSX again. I noticed that along with my files that I downloaded in Windows, a file named exactly the same appeared as well, only with a /zone.identifier suffix. I have no idea what this file is and/or does.

Anyway I thought oh well, I'll just delete it whenever I boot into OSX after downloading stuff in Windows. I was wrong. When I try to move it to the trash I get this exact message:

The operation can't be completed because one or more items can't be found. (Error code -43)

I tried dragging to the trash, command-dragging to the trash, right clicking and selecting 'Move to trash', and I tried using terminal to either delete (sudo rm -rf path/to/file) or hide (chflags hidden path/to/file). After trying to rm -rf I get nothing, it just goes to a new line. After trying to hide with chflags hidden I get this error: No such file or directory.

Again, I have no idea what this file is, I have never seen it and a google search didn't help me much either, I just found that it was some kind of metadata file, but nothing about trying to delete them.

TLDR: OSX basically says I am crazy and a file doesn't exist, so I can't hide or remove it.

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NTFS has "alternate streams" which are similar to "forks" in HFS, except they can be multiple and named – more like "extended attributes", in fact. For example, almost all Windows browsers mark downloaded files by creating a stream named Zone.Identifier, so that Windows Explorer will know it's a downloaded file and will verify signatures, ask for confirmation when running, etc.

The alternate streams are accessed as regular files with a special name like filename:streamname – for example, the web browser just creates a file called myfile:Zone.Identifier when it wants to add a stream. Since HFS doesn't support streams the way NTFS would, but it does allow filenames with :s in them, you end up with a strange file instead.

Note that Finder swaps : and / when listing files, for historical reasons (related to Mac OS X being Unix and older versions not). So if it shows myfile/Zone.Identifier, you actually need to use

rm myfile:Zone.Identifier
  • Hey man, first of thanks for your help. When I try to remove it in terminal it outputs this. In the first line I just dragged my file into the terminal window and pressed enter, and in the second line I tried your method, or at least I think I did. Also, in Finder it shows "iTunes64Setup.exe/Zone.Identifier". When I drag it into terminal it shows the same, but seems to transform / into \: – user244506 Aug 9 '13 at 19:25
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After trying everything possible under OSX, using the method below was the only way I was able to delete the annoying file tagged as: xx.Zone.Identifier

Try this:

  1. Restart in Windows
  2. Open the drive where the folder/file (zone.identifier) you trying to delete is located. In my case it was located: external drive/.Trashes/501/XXX
  3. Make sure that that under options you select: view all files (in order to view all hidden files)
  4. Search for your specific folder/file (in my case was a jpg image located under the Picture folder)
  5. Delete

Done.

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