Getting PNG Files Error Code 36 Mac? Try These Fixes!

Error code 36 is fairly common when you copy files from an external hard drive or an SD card to your Mac. But ever wonder why it happens in the first place?

Error code 36 refers to the failure of Mac OS to read or write the selected files to your drive. You can fix it by running the dot command, correcting the permissions on the files you are copying, and formatting the drive with a supported format for Mac.

In the following sections of the article, we have discussed why error 36 happens and how you can get rid of it. So follow alongside me and let’s get rid of this issue from your Mac at this instant.

Why Do You Get Error Code 36 on Mac OS?

Every folder on your Mac’s drive has a .DS_STORE file. It stores essential information about your files, such as their icon, size, etc. Think of these as a cache file for your Mac OS.

The problem arises when they become corrupted. You can no longer copy and read any files into this folder. That’s when the OS shows error 36.

This can also happen if you try moving files between two sources that do not support the same file system.

Let’s say you are trying to copy images from an SD card that is formatted to NTFS. Then the Mac can only read this but cannot copy it.

How to Fix Error Code 36 on Mac OS?

To fix error code 36, we will remove the corrupted .DS_STORE files and make sure the transferred files have permissions for read and write.

We will also take a look at how to format your external drive to the correct supported file format so that Mac OS recognizes it.

So, let’s move to the first method.

1. Run Dot Clean Command from the Terminal

Mac OS has a built-in command called dot clean. This removes the .DS_STORE files from a folder. Removing these files has no implications on your personal files that you store on your Mac. Instead, this will make the error 36 go away from your Mac.

We will run the dot clean command from the Mac OS terminal. Even if you haven’t used Terminal before, the process is fairly easy, and all you need to do is type in the commands properly.

Here is how to run the Dot Clean Command:

  • Navigate to the folder where you will copy the files
  • Press Command + Space keys at the same time and open Spotlight.
  • Type in Terminal. Click the app from the result to open it.
Type Terminal Click the app
  • Now type dot_clean, drag the folder from Finder to Terminal, while  pressing the Enter key. It should look something like this.
type dot_clean, drag the folder from Finder to Terminal

Wait till this is done. Now try copying the same files and see how that fares for you.   

While this should fix the error code 36, there are reports where users complain that the dot_clean command is not working for them. If the same happens to you, jump to the next method.

2. Ensure the Copied Files Have Read/Write Permission

Sometimes, files from other computers have read only permissions. This means you cannot write these files to someplace else.  That will prevent you from making changes to it.

What you need to do is change the permissions on the files such that you can both read and write the files to any drive on your Mac.

Here’s how to change file permission on Mac OS:

  • Open the Finder app and click on your external drive. For transferring a group of files, place them into a folder.
  • Right-click on the folder that you created earlier and open Get Info.
Right-click on the folder that you created earlier and open Get Info.
  • Expand Sharing and Permission.
Expand Sharing and Permission.
  • Click the lock icon to make changes. The Mac OS will ask you to enter your account’s password before going to the next step.
Click the lock icon to make changes

Here you will see the users who have read and write permissions. See if your user account has file read and write permissions.

  • Click on the privilege option next to your user name.
Click on the privilege option next to your user name
  • Select Read and Write.
Select Read and Write

Now, you can copy the files from the external drive to your Mac. Try copying them and see the result.

3. Format the External Drive in FAT format

If you continue to get the same error, then the disk you are copying from has compatibility issues with Mac OS.

Mac OS supports both NTFS and FAT 32 file formats. But with NTFS, you lose the write capability. The drive will continue working fine on Windows, but on Mac OS, you will run into issues.

A good idea would be to format the drive in exFAT file format. Mac OS fully supports read and write on this file system. That way, you can copy the files back and forth from Mac and Windows PC without any issues.

Even though most people would use FAT32, I suggest switching them to exFAT. It is supported widely on older and newer Macs and does not have the same 4GB max file size limitations as on the FAT 32 file system. 

Note: Before formatting the drive, remember to back up all the files from the external drive to a different computer. Because once you format this, you will lose all your data stored there.

Both Mac or Windows can format your drive. But here we will show you how to do this on your Mac:

  • Press Cmd + Space to open Spotlight search.
  • Type in Disk Utility. Click to open it from the results.
open Spotlight search and Type in Disk Utility.
  • Click on your external drive from the left pane.
  • Press the Erase button from the top right part of the screen.
Press the Erase button from the top right part of the screen
  • Under Format, select ExFAT.
  • Click the Erase button.

A progress bar will show how long it will take to complete formatting. Once this is done, copy the files into the external drive from another computer and then try copying it back to your Mac.

4. Repair the Drive from Disk Utility

Finally, if nothing works, the next step would be to repair the Mac’s internal drive. Mac OS uses a utility called First Aid, which identifies bad sectors from your hard drive.

It will attempt to repair them, but if that’s not an option, the sectors are marked. This will make those sections unavailable for copying files in the future.

Remember, repairing will not delete your files. It will try to ensure the OS does not access the bad sectors of the drive when copying the files.

Here is how to repair your drive on Mac OS:

  • Run Disk Utility.
  • Select the drive you want to repair. Look for the names of your external drive from the left pane.
  • Click on the First Aid button.
Click on the First Aid button
  • Press Run to start repairing the drive.
Press Run to start repairing the drive

First Aid will check the drive for any errors and notify you. If it gets any, the repair will be completed automatically.

If you’re also facing issues with your external drive not blinking on your Mac, check out our comprehensive guide on for troubleshooting steps and solutions.


Error 36 is usually associated with copying files on Mac OS. While we have covered how to fix this, you can have some additional queries. This section aims to answer those.

What is error 36 in the Mac OS photo library?

You get the error 36 on Mac OS if the operating system has trouble reading the files. This happens when the files on your photo library are corrupt, or there is a problem with your internal drive.

Why can’t I copy files on my Mac?

If the files are on an unsupported drive, then Mac OS cannot read them, and the copy will fail. In addition, read/write permissions are a must for the files.

Why does Finder show data cannot be read or written error 36?

When Finder has trouble reading the files from a drive, you get the error that it cannot read or write. File corruption and unsupported file formats can cause this.

Final Thoughts

So, were you able to solve the error 36 and finally copy the files to your Mac? If not, it is worth checking out your Mac’s drive.

If the external drive is working fine on other computers, then the problem lies with your Mac’s internal drive. Try running a repair from Disk Utility to fix this. A replacement of the internal drive is on the cards should this fail.

That’s it then. We hope you use this piece to successfully troubleshoot your Mac.

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