How to securely empty the trash in os x

By Anders Smith

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Emptying the Trash doesn’t mean that your files have been gone for good. With powerful recovery software, there is still chance to recover the deleted files from your Mac. So how to protect the confidential files and personal information on the Mac from falling into wrong hand? You need to securely clean up the Trash. This piece will cover how to secure empty the Trash on macOS Sierra, El Capitan and the earlier version.


  • What is Secure Empty Trash?
  • Secure Empty Trash on OS X Yosemite and Earlier
  • Securely Empty Trash on OX El Capitan with Terminal
  • Securely Empty Trash on macOS Sierra

What is Secure Empty Trash?

When you simply empty the Trash, the files and folders in the Trash are not totally erased but still remain in your Mac until they are overwritten by new data. If someone use a recovery software on your Mac before the files are overwritten, they could scan out the deleted files. That’s why you need secure empty trash feature, which make the files unrecoverable by writing a series of meaningless ones and zeroes over deleted files.

The secure empty trash feature used to be available on OS X Yosemite and earlier. But since El Capitan, Apple has cut the feature because it is can not work on flash storage, such as SSD (which is adopted by Apple to its new Mac/MacBook models.) Therefore, if your Mac/MacBook are running on El Capitan or later, you’ll need other ways to empty the Trash securely.

Secure Empty Trash on OS X Yosemite and Earlier

If your Mac/MacBook runs on OS X 10.10 Yosemite or earlier, you can use the built in secure empty trash feature easily:

Drag the files into the Trash, then choose Finder > Secure Empty Trash.

To empty the Trash securely by default, choose Finder > Preferences > Advanced, then select “Empty Trash securely.”

How to securely empty the trash in os x

You should notice that using secure empty trash feature to delete files will takes a bit longer than simply emptying the Trash.

Securely Empty Trash on OX El Capitan with Terminal

Since secure empty trash feature has been removed from OX 10.11 El Capitan, you can use terminal command to securely clean up the Trash.

Open up Terminal on your Mac.

Type the command: srm -v followed by a space. Please don’t leave out the space and do not press Enter at this point.

Then drag a file from Finder to the Terminal window, the command would look like this:

Click Enter. The file will be securely removed.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Securely Empty Trash on macOS Sierra

However, the srm -v command was abandoned by macOS Sierra. So Sierra users can’t use the Terminal method, either. To secure your files on macOS Sierra, you’re recommended to encrypted your whole disk with FileVault. If you don’t the disk encryption, there are third-party programs allowing you to securely empty the Trash. Macube Cleaner is one of them.

With Macube Cleaner (opens new window) , you can not only securely empty the Trash (opens new window) but other many unneeded files to free up space, including:

Macube Cleaner works on macOS Sierra, OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite. And it is simple to use. Here is how it work.

Step 1. Download and launch Macube Cleaner on your Mac.

Step 2. Click System Junk > Scan. And it will scan out part of files, like system/application caches, users/system logs, photos junks. You are able to remove some unneeded items.

Step 3. Choose Trash Bin to scan, and you will see all deleted files in trash bin. Then, click Clean to securely clean up the Trash.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Also you can choose Mail Trash, Large & Old files to clean other unneeded files on your Mac.

Do you have other ways to secure clean the Trash, share with us below.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Macs have a reputation of lasting longer than others. You might think of replacing mac not because of reduced performance but for upgraded operating system. However, when you are replacing mac you’d certainly delete your files and folders. You think deleting files will ensure their safety, then you are definitely mistaken. You need to secure empty trash on mac before selling it. This will ensure that anyone cannot retrieve your files and misuse them.

What Is Secure Empty Trash?

When we delete files from trash, we are just emptying it. There is no surety that it has been erased and gone for good! With use of efficient recovery software, all of it can be recovered. Simply put, any data on your mac can be recovered unless it has been overwritten. This is the reason why you need secure empty trash on mac. By securing your mac, you are basically making them unrecoverable by including a series of zeros and ones(Binary combination) over deleted files. This feature was used to be available on OS X Yosemite and earlier. However, this was discontinued as the later as it didn’t work on flash drives.

How To Secure Empty Trash On OS X Yosemite and Earlier?

If you are someone who is still using OS X Yosemite and earlier, then you can easily use built in features to secure empty trash on Mac. All you have to do is follow the steps given below and the rest will be taken care of !

Drag files to trash and then select Finder. Furthermore, from the drop down list, choose “Secure Empty Trash.” This will automatically secure your empty trash on Mac. also, remember that when you secure empty trash, it takes a bit longer than just deleting them.

Securely Empty Trash on OX El Capitan with Terminal

Since the feature of securely emptying trash was removed from this version onwards, you’ll have to do so via terminal commands. Follow the steps given below to do the same!

  • Open terminal.
  • Enter srm -v. Make sure you enter space and do not hit enter.
  • Drag file from finder to terminal.
  • Your command will be modified by doing this and then hit enter.
  • This will secure the deleted files in trash.

How to securely empty the trash in os xSource:

Secure Empty Trash On Mac Using Third-Party Software – Cleanup My System

Certain third-party tools will help you in deleting your files from Trash in a straightforward way. For this, we recommend using Cleanup My System as it is one of the best options available to help you optimize your Mac. Read further and get to know about it in detail.

Use Cleanup My System= Top-Notch Mac Cleaning Software

This is one of the best tools available for optimizing and speeding up your Mac. It allows you to easily enhance the performance of your machine using the advanced and powerful modules, included in the package.

Of course, manual decluttering is an option, but it consumes a lot of time and effort. That’s why we suggest using full-fledged software that provides tools to clean, optimize and protect. Using Cleanup My System, you can not only clear unneeded trash items, but it is capable of performing several other tasks to declutter & speed up your Mac. Upon successful installation, you can navigate to the Trash Cleaner module and hit the Start Scan button.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

As soon as the scanning process gets completed, a list of all the Trash items stored on the Macintosh HD will be presented to you. You can select the items you want to eliminate and hit the Clean Now button!

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Several other features in Cleanup My System make it a great choice for optimizing the performance of your Mac: Clean Mail Attachments, Manage Startup Items, Uninstall Apps, Delete Large & Old Files, Remove Identity/Privacy Exposing Traces, etc.

Give Cleanup My System a try and you’ll find it worthy. Read the full review of Cleanup My System right here. Do not forget to share your personal experience with us after using the software!

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Putting a file in the trashcan means it’s marked for deletion. But until you actually empty the trash, it’ll sit there — just like a trashcan in real life. It’s easy to let those files build up until you have hundreds of megabytes — gigabytes, even, just waiting to be deleted (or discovered if anyone has access and decides to snoop). So if you want your precious drive space back, and you want to make sure what you’ve deleted is really deleted, empty the trash.

How to empty the trash on your Mac

  1. Click and hold on the Trashcan icon in the Dock.
  2. A popup will appear that says Empty Trash. Select it. (You can also empty the Trash from any open Finder window by holding down the command and shift keys and pressing delete.)

How to securely empty the trash on your Mac

Emptying the trash is usually sufficient to get rid of the files you don’t want anymore. But emptying the trash doesn’t really destroy the files: They remain on the hard drive, marked for being overwritten the next time your Mac needs the space. As a result, some deleted files can be recovered using disk recovery software.

Sometimes you may delete files that are particularly sensitive: Financial records, for example, intimate photos, or other data you absolutely don’t want anyone to get their hands on, under any circumstances.

Apple has considered this and has provided a Secure Empty Trash option as well. Secure Empty Trash overwrites the deleted files with what Apple calls “meaningless data.”

Secure Empty Trash takes longer, but provides, as the name implies, a more secure form of file deletion. Use at your own discretion.

  1. Click and hold on the Trashcan icon in the Dock.
  2. Hold down the command key and click on the Trash. Empty Trash will change to Secure Empty Trash. Select it.
  3. To do it from any open Finder window, click on the Finder menu and select Secure Empty Trash.

Bonus Tip: Make Secure Empty Trash the default behavior

Use this tip if you’d like to make sure that your Mac securely deletes files every time you empty the Trash.

  1. Open the Finder.
  2. Click on the Finder menu.
  3. Select Preferences.
  4. Check Empty Trash Securely.

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Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He’s covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He’s even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8. Read more.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

OS X has a reputation for being secure. It is, and to its credit it provides quite a few options for making it even more secure, such as the option to securely delete files so they’re much harder, if not impossible, to recover.

Securely deleting your files means that when you empty the trash on your Mac, not only are the files removed from the hard drive, but they’re then overwritten with random bits of data to effectively obscure them. It’s like if you were to cross something out in pencil on a piece of paper versus taking a permanent black marker and going over it until you cannot make out what was underneath.

Secure erasing is not a new concept, and we’ve explained how to do it in Windows. We’ve mentioned the ability to perform a secure erase on OS X in passing, when we discussed the Finder and its preferences. Today we want to show you the three ways you can perform secure erases in OS X.

Command is the Option

The Option or Alt key opens up all kinds of new possibilities. For example, if you hold down the option key and click the volume slider on your menu bar, you can quickly change input and output sources.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Similarly, you’ll also find hidden items on Finder menus and Dock.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

It would seem to follow logically that you can do the same thing with the Trash, however, when you want to securely delete files from your computer, you will need to actually hold down the “Command” key, right-click, and then you can select “Secure Empty Trash”.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

You can also securely delete the Trash using the Finder menu.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

When you try to securely empty the trash, you’ll receive the following dialog warning you that this action is forever.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Take note, however, if you do securely empty your trash with the intention of permanently erasing something, and you have Time Machine or another backup program running, then chances are that the offending file or files will still exist.

Remember, hidden features and menus are normally accessible in OS X by using the “Option” key, but to access the hidden secure erase option, you need to use the “Command” key.

Permanently Enabling Secure Erase

If you don’t want to hold the “Command” key every time you securely empty your trash, then you can enable it as the permanent default.

You should know however, that securely erasing data every time will take longer than not. This is probably something you want to consider if you use a Mac with sensitive data or you’re just really privacy conscious, but for day-to-day erasures, it might be better to leave this option off.

First, open the Finder preferences from the “Finder” menu or use the “Command + ,” keyboard shortcut combination. Once they’re open, click the “Advanced” tab and then check the box next to “Empty Trash securely”.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

From now on, whenever you empty the trash, it will not indicate it is a secure erase until you actually initiate it, whereafter it will display the previously mentioned warning.

Securely erasing the trash doesn’t absolve users of taking other security measures. OS X has an entire preference panel for important options such as encryption, passwords, firewall, and more. Secure erasing does, however, add in just another layer of safety that users may not have previously considered.

Just remember, secure erasing means your computer has to do extra work so it might take noticeably longer when performing larger delete operations. Also, anything you do delete with this method may still be located in Time Machine or other backups.

If you have any feedback you would like to add, such as a comment or question, please leave it our discussion forum.

There used to be an option to delete files securely in older versions of Mac OS X. However, I am unable to find the same in macOS High Sierra 10.13.5.

Is the option removed? If yes, what’s the probable reason? As I understand, the command was useful to ensure that data could no longer be recovered from the hard drive.

I am using a Late 2013 15″ retina MacBook Pro.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

3 Answers 3

This feature was removed in macOS 10.11 El Capitan. Per the Apple support document About the security content of OS X El Capitan v10.11, it was removed for security reasons.

Available for: Mac OS X v10.6.8 and later

Impact: The “Secure Empty Trash” feature may not securely delete files placed in the Trash

Description: An issue existed in guaranteeing secure deletion of Trash files on some systems, such as those with flash storage. This issue was addressed by removing the “Secure Empty Trash” option.

The CVE gives a small paragraph on this issue. From NVD – CVE-2015-5901:

The Secure Empty Trash feature in Finder in Apple OS X before 10.11 improperly deletes Trash files, which might allow local users to obtain sensitive information by reading storage media, as demonstrated by reading a flash drive.

If you are concerned about data ‘falling into the wrong hands’ or just giving/selling your MBP to somebody else, the best practice is to boot into Recovery, use DiskUtility from the Utilities menu to erase the disk with elevated security overwrite passes, then reinstall macOS.

Below is a screen cap of the Security Options available in DiskUtility.

Note: the Most Secure option can take many, many hours to complete, depending on the size and rotational speed of the disk being erased.

SSD drive erasure note from Apple:

With a solid-state drive (SSD), secure erase options are not available in Disk Utility. For more security, consider turning on FileVault encryption when you start using your SSD drive.

Posted on November 5th, 2015 by Kirk McElhearn

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Previous versions of OS X used to have a Secure Empty Trash feature, which would securely delete the contents of the Trash. What this did was overwrite the files with zeroes, making it much harder — nearly impossible, in fact — to recover the files.

Unfortunately, when OS X El Capitan was released, Apple removed the Secure Empty Trash feature due to a vulnerability identifid as CVE-2015-5901. As the company says in its notes for security fixes:

Available for: Mac OS X v10.6.8 and later
Impact: The “Secure Empty Trash” feature may not securely delete files placed in the Trash
Description: An issue existed in guaranteeing secure deletion of Trash files on some systems, such as those with flash storage. This issue was addressed by removing the “Secure Empty Trash” option.

When OS X saves a copy of a file, it doesn’t write that file to the same part of the disk. In layman’s terms, what this means is that while you may be able to securely delete a file or folder, you cannot be certain that other copies of that file are not recoverable. As such, securely emptying the Trash is not reliable. While many Mac users miss this option, Apple felt it’s better to be safe and not offer it if the feature isn’t 100% reliable.

How to securely delete files in El Capitan

There are still a couple of ways you can securely delete files in El Capitan. For example, you can use a command called srm , which can “securely remove files or directories.” To do this, open Terminal (go to Finder > Applications > Utilities); it’s in the Utilities folder in your Applications folder, and then type the following:

Type a space after the above command. Drag a file that you want to delete into the Terminal window; you’ll see that Terminal adds its file path. Press Return, and the file will be securely deleted. If the file is very large, this may take a while.

If you want to delete a folder, then use this command:

However, this command may still not delete other copies of a file that had previously been written to other parts of your disk.

How to securely erase free space in El Capitan

To fully clean up your drive, you can use another Terminal command to securely erase all its free space. (This feature used to be available in Disk Utility, but Apple removed it.). The command is as follows:

diskutil secureErase freespace LEVEL /Volumes/DRIVE

Replace DRIVE with the name of your drive, and LEVEL to a number from 0 to 4. The following describes what these numbers mean:

  • 0 writes zeroes to the disk once
  • 1 writes a series of random numbers
  • 2 writes zeroes 7 times
  • 3 writes zeroes 35 times
  • 4 writes zeroes 3 times

Note that the time it takes to erase the free space is multiplied by the number of passes.

Why Apple’s FileVault is your best solution

To ensure that no one can use disk recovery software on your drive, it’s best to use Apple’s FileVault. Apple’s FileVault full-disk encryption ensures that even when files are saved multiple times in different areas of a drive, they are encrypted. The only way anyone could get at them is if they have your FileVault password.

If you haven’t yet given FileVault a go, it’s easy to enable. Make sure you have logged into OS X with an account that has admin privileges, and go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault. Once there, press Turn on FileVault. With FileVault turned on, you no longer have to worry about securely deleting files.

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Secure File Deletion in Mac OS X

For Apple computers that either have a SSD, or are running at least Mac OS X version 10.11:

If you are using a Mac that is running macOS version 10.10 or earlier, and it has a spinning hard drive (typically all desktop Macs and most laptops that have a CD/DVD drive), you can either also use File Vault, or continue to follow the directions below to use Secure Delete when emptying the trash.

To check if your computer has a SSD or spinning hard drive (MacOS 10.11 or earlier):

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the menubar and select About this Mac.
  2. Click either System Report or System Info
  3. In the System Information report, go to Hardware >Storage.
  4. If there are two panes on the right, in the top right pane, click on the drive that is your main hard drive (typically Macintosh HD).
  5. In the bottom right pane, look for the Physical Volume section.
  6. Look for the Medium Type field.
    • It will either say Rotational (spinning hard drive), or SSD.
    • If it is Rotational, you can use the Secure Empty Trash below, or encrypt via File Vault.
    • If it is SSD, you can only secure your files via File Vault.

To Secure Empty Trash on a spinning hard drive:

  1. Drag the files or folders you wish to securely delete to the Trash, located at the far right end of the Dock.
  2. Click once on the Trash icon to open the Trash folder and make sure you are ok with permanently deleting all files and folders in the Trash.
  3. From the menubar, choose Finder >Secure Empty Trash.
  4. You will see a warning message alerting you that the files will be deleted. Click OK to start the secure deletion process.
    • NOTE: The Secure Emprty Trash process takes slightly longer than a normal emptying of the Trash because the files and folders are overwritten several times to make them unrecoverable.
  5. Once the progress bar disappears, all files and folders that were in the Trash have been securely erased and are completely irrecoverable.

Want to know how to empty trash on Mac? This article gives you three methods to help you empty Mac trash.

Emptying all trash in your Mac’s trash bin doesn’t mean that you have them deleted completely. With powerful recovery software, there is still possibility to find them back. To better protect your privacy, you need to make sure that all trash on your Mac has been cleaned up for good.

Then, how to empty trash on Mac permanently? In the following post, I’ll show you three common methods to securely empty trash on Mac. You can choose the method that suits you best.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

How to Empty Trash on Mac

Method 1. How to Empty Trash on Mac with Mac Cleaner Tool (Recommended)

If want to empty trash on your Mac, the most efficient way is to use the third-party software. There is a lot of software in the market. Here below, we shall recommend you the most professional Mac Cleaner tool, which enables you to empty all trash on Mac with simple clicks. Besides, it also allows you to clean large/old files, delete duplicate files, remove unwanted apps, as well as monitor Mac performance.

  • 1. Mac Cleaner supports to empty trash or delete internet junk, junk files, large & old files on Mac.
  • 2. Clear unwanted files to free up more space and protect your privacy.
  • 3. Monitor Mac status, such as disk utilization, battery status, memory usage and CPU usage.
  • 4. Compatible with iMac, iMac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro.
  • 5. Apply to Mac OS X 10.10 or above (Mac OS X Yosemite, Mac OX El Capitan, macOS High Sierra included).

Now free download this program and follow the steps below to empty trash on Mac quickly and permanently.

Steps to delete history on Mac with Mac Cleaner

Step 1 Download Mac Cleaner and launch the software. Mac Cleaner will detect the system status of your Mac, and you can see the details in the interface.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Step 2 Choose “Junk Files” in the left panel, and then click the “Scan” button in the main window.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Step 3 After the scanning process, you can see all junk files are listed, including “Trash bin”. In order to empty trash on Mac, check the “Trash bin” option, then hit “Clean” button to start clear up all trash bin files.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Wait for seconds, then you can see the trash emptied on Mac. You can also choose other options if you need to clean more junk files, such as “Application Cache”, “Photo Junks”, “System Logs”, “User Logs”, “Trash Bin”, etc.

Method 2. How to Secure Empty Trash on Mac

When you simply empty the Trash on Mac, the files and folders are not totally erased but still remain in your Mac. Apple has considered this, and provided a Secure Empty Trash option, which assists you to overwrite the deleted files, making it impossible to recover. Now let’s see how to secure empty trash on Mac.

Note : Unfortunately, the Secure Empty Trash option is only available on OS X Yosemite and earlier. If you are using OS X El Capitan, jump to other methods.

Step 1 Open Finder from your Launchpad, pull down “Finder” menu and choose “Secure Empty Trash” option.

Step 2 A window pops up and asks if you want to permanently erase the items in Trash. Choose Secure Empty Trash to confirm it.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Step 3 Wait for seconds, then the Trash will be emptied and overwritten.

Method 3. How to Force Empty Trash on Mac Using Terminal

What to do if Mac tells you that you can’t empty trash? May an item is “still in use” even though you know it’s not, or maybe an item is locked. Whatever the reason is, there is a way you can force empty trash on Mac.

Step 1 Go to “Finder” > “Applications” > “Utilities”, find and open up Terminal.

Step 2 Type the command: srm -v followed by a space. Please don’t leave out the space.

Step 3 Drag a file from Finder to the Terminal window, then hit Enter button. The file will be securely removed.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

With the above methods, it is easy to secure empty trash or force empty trash on Mac. As you can see, the last two methods are complicated and limited to specific OS versions. While Mac Cleaner as a professional junk file cleaner tool has no limitation and works on all Mac devices and systems.

In this article, we have mainly showed you three methods to empty trash on Mac, you can use Secure Empty Trash option, or force empty Mac trash via Terminal. Moreover, we suggest you to consider Mac Cleaner – the one-click solution to empty trash on Mac. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be.

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How to securely empty the trash in os x

June 13, 2019 10:55 / Updated by Louisa White to Mac Cleanup

How to delete internet history on Macbook? This article shows you how to delete browsing, search, download history on Mac.

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Я внезапно замечаю опцию под названием Безопасная пустая корзина . В то время как пустая корзина обычно получается нажатием правой кнопки мыши на значке корзины , для безопасной пустой корзины Command в это время мы должны нажимать только кнопку.

Я также заметил, что с Безопасной пустой корзиной Системе требуется больше времени, чтобы очистить корзину, чем обычно. Это почему? Какая разница между ними? И когда я должен использовать «Безопасный пустой мусор»?

Команда «Безопасная пустая корзина» предлагает Mac OS X выполнить удаление файла из семи проходов * Вместо того, чтобы просто удалить запись каталога для рассматриваемого файла или файлов, команда «Очистить пустую корзину» в Mac OS X инициирует серию из семи различных проходов. какая случайная информация записывается в секторах жесткого диска, ранее занятых этим файлом. Фактически, Apple заявляет, что это безопасное удаление соответствует стандартам безопасности Министерства обороны США.

* Это неверно. Это 1X проход. Смотрите редактировать.

Для сравнения, «Пустая корзина» вообще не записывает поверх «удаленных» данных – она ​​просто отмечает блоки, в которых эти данные хранятся на вашем жестком диске, как доступные для использования. Он не стирает фактические данные, которые вы отбрасываете.

Запись на диск даже один раз занимает некоторое время. Простое сообщение системе «эти блоки теперь доступны для перезаписи» также не занимает много времени.

Вам следует использовать «Безопасный пустой мусор», если вы удаляете конфиденциальную информацию и хотите убедиться, что она не будет восстановлена ​​в будущем.

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Эта статья в Tech Republic неверна. Как правильно указал Эндрю Медико в своем ответе, безопасное опустошение мусора выполняет 1X проход. Из учебного руководства Apple:

Существуют различные уровни безопасности в зависимости от количества проходов и от того, использует ли каждый путь определенный шаблон данных или случайные данные. Дисковая утилита в OS X предлагает несколько вариантов очистки для всего тома или свободного места. Доступна опция стирания в семь проходов, соответствующая стандартам Министерства обороны США (DOD 5220-22M).

Пользователи также могут инициировать санацию при удалении файлов с помощью команды «Безопасная пустая корзина» в Finder. Эта команда перезаписывает файлы при их удалении с помощью однократного стирания.

В то время как опция « Очистить свободное пространство» в Дисковой утилите предлагает пропуск 7Х, функция безопасного пустого мусора – только 1Х проход. Техническая Республика, кажется, объединила их.

In case you run into errors

When you delete a file on a Mac, you only end up hiding it in Finder. To remove it and free up the associated disk space, you must empty the Trash. Control-clicking the Trash icon and picking the Empty Trash option is the fastest way to do that.

However, permanently getting rid of the contents within the Trash isn’t always that easy and may result in errors. So if you run into any trouble, you can quickly empty the Trash in macOS using Terminal instead. You’ll find the complete procedure below.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Delete the Trash in Mac Using Terminal (macOS El Capitan and Later)

If you use a Mac running macOS 10.11 El Capitan or later (such as Big Sur or Monterey), you can quickly empty the Trash using Terminal.

1. Open the Launchpad and select Other > Terminal.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

2. Type the following command:

sudo rm -r

Note: Do not run the command yet.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

3. Press the Space key once to add a single space to the end of the command. It’s essential to do that. If not, the command will fail.

4. Open the Trash.

5. Select the files you want to delete while holding down the Command key. If you want to remove everything, press Command + A to highlight all files and folders instantly.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

6. Drag the highlighted files into the Trash. Depending on how many items you want to delete, multiple file paths may show up in Terminal.

7. Press Enter.

8. Type in your administrator password.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

9. Press Enter. Terminal will delete the specified items from the Trash. You won’t receive a confirmation, so it’s best to double-check.

If Terminal fails to delete a specific file or files, adding the f (force) option will override issues caused by conflicting permissions. Type sudo rm -rf in step 2.

Emptying the Trash permanently deletes the files (unless you’ve set up Time Machine on your Mac). Hence, if you prefer confirmation before deleting each time, you can use the i (interactive) option—e.g., sudo rm -ri.

Delete the Trash in Mac Using Terminal (macOS Yosemite and Earlier)

On a Mac running macOS 10.10 Yosemite or earlier, emptying the Trash using Terminal is relatively uncomplicated.

1. Open the Launchpad and select Other > Terminal.

2. Type the following command:

sudo rm -rf

3. Press Enter.

4. Type in your administrator password.

5. Press Enter.

Alternative Ways to Delete Problematic Files in Trash

Deleting the Trash using Terminal is quick. But it’s also inconvenient. If you can’t empty the Trash using the GUI (graphical user interface) in macOS due to a specific file or files, run through the pointers below the next time.

Delete Items Individually

Try deleting any problematic files or folders individually. To do that, open the Trash, control-click the offending item, and select Delete Immediately.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Unlock Files and Check Permissions

macOS may prevent you from deleting a locked file or folder. Try unlocking it. To do that, control-click the item within the Trash and select Get Info. Then, uncheck the box next to Locked.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

While you’re at it, you may also want to scroll down to the Sharing & Permissions section and set Privilege to Read & Write for your user account. You may not be able to do that if you don’t have administrative privileges.

Force-Quit Relevant Programs

Try quitting any programs that might be preventing you from permanently deleting a file or folder. You can do that by control-clicking the program’s icon via the Mac’s Dock and selecting Quit. For example, if you have trouble removing a Pages document, fully exit the Pages app.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Additionally, you might want to check if the relevant program is stuck. To do that, open the Apple menu and select Force-quit. If the program appears within the list, select the item and choose Force Quit. Here are other ways to force-quit apps in macOS.

Restart Your Mac

Restarting your Mac can also help resolve bugs, glitches, and conflicts preventing you from emptying the Trash.

Just open the Apple menu and select Restart. Then, leave the box next to Reopen windows when logging back in unchecked and choose Restart.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Disable Conflicting Startup Programs

If you continue to have trouble emptying the Trash normally, you probably have a conflicting program that boots alongside macOS.

To remove it, open the Apple menu and select System Preferences > Users & Groups. Then, select your user account on the sidebar and switch to the Login Items tab. Follow that by selecting and removing any apps that might cause issues with a specific file format.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Booting your Mac in Safe Mode can also help you identify problematic or sketchy startup programs and extensions that cause issues.

Take Out the Trash

Despite being able to empty the Trash using Terminal in macOS, it’s best to stick to the graphical user interface, if possible. Taking the time to figure out what prevents you from deleting files within Mac’s Trash rather than force-deleting its contents may help you avoid having to deal with the same problem going forward.

That being said, if you end up permanently removing files and folders you later want to recover, don’t forget to restore the lost items using Time Machine.

Dilum Senevirathne is a freelance tech writer and blogger with three years of experience writing for online technology publications. He specializes in topics related to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and Google web apps. When he isn’t hammering away at his Magic Keyboard, you can catch him binge-watching productivity hacks on YouTube. Read Dilum’s Full Bio

With the introduction of OSX El Capitan, the ability to securely empty the trash must be done within Terminal. NOTE: ALL ITEMS DELETED IN THIS WAY IS IRREVERSIBLE.

Access the Terminal (OSX version of command prompt) by:

1. Using Spotlight search (command+Space bar) and type in “Terminal”

2. Navigate to your Applications Folder –> Utilities–> Terminal

How to securely empty the trash in os x

To perform a “Secure Empty Trash” command

/.trash into the command line prompt and press “enter”. The line basically means ‘take me to the hidden trash directory’

2. Type in: ls and press “enter” This step is not entirely necessary but recommended. This command stands for ‘list’ and it will list all files within the trash directory. This is recommended so that you may be sure these are the files you wish to remove as you can not get them back.

3. Type in: srm -rv

/.trash and press “enter” . This line tells your computer to securely remove the items in the folder specified.

4. You may be prompted by the operating system asking if you are sure you would like to remove these files. NOTE: This is irreversible. Type ‘y‘ for yes.

To perform a “Secure Empty Trash” command for OS X El Captian (10.11.+)

1. Type in srm -v (for one file) or srm -rv (for an entire directory).

2. Drag and drop the file (or folder if using srm -rv) into the Terminal window. This will put the files or folder path into the command line.

3. Hit the RETURN key to permanently delete the file or folder path. NOTE: This is irreversible.

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How to securely empty the trash in os x


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Emptying the trash prevents unauthorized access to your sensitive and proprietary business data. Deleting a file using the standard method of emptying the trash can leave your data vulnerable to recovery tools that read raw data. Securely deleting the trash overwrites the saved data with random ones and zeros to prevent the recovery of the data. You can also ensure that you completely erased all your previously deleted files by overwriting the free space on your hard drive with Disk Utility.

Empty Trash

Click the “Finder” icon located in the Dock.

Select the “Finder” menu and select “Empty Trash” or “Secure Empty Trash” from the drop-down menu.

Confirm you want to empty the trash by clicking the “Empty Trash” or “Secure Empty Trash” button. If the trash contains a large number of files, it could take a long time to securely empty your trash.

Overwrite Free Space

Click the “Go” menu; select “Utilities” and double-click “Disk Utility.”

Select your hard drive from the sidebar; click the “Erase” tab and select “Erase Free Space.”

Select the “3-pass” option to securely delete your data and then click “Erase Free Space” again. Erase free space more quickly by using the Fastest option and choose the Most Secure option to provide the least chance of recovery.

Dragging files onto the Trash icon in the Dock doesn’t remove deleted files from the system. Just like with a regular trash can, you need to ‘empty’ it for the contents to get removed, so right-click on the Trash icon and select “Empty Trash”. While this process should be seamless, there are situations where clearing the trash becomes very slow or even becomes stuck, and in some cases macOS will display an error message to explain the reason.

Emptying Trash Slow

The first thing you might want to check if the trash is slow to empty is whether the “Secure Empty Trash” feature is active. This is a built-in macOS feature that overwrites the data that was stored so the files cannot be recovered once deleted. While it is secure and specially designed for hard disk technology, it is a much slower process compared to a regular file removal. It’s worth noting that this is something most users won’t need unless it is highly sensitive information.

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To check if this option is active, go to Finder > Preferences > Advanced and untick “Empty Trash Securely”. Remember, this will only appear for Mac users running macOS 10.10 or earlier, since Apple removed this feature starting with macOS 10.11 El Capitan.

Emptying Trash Becomes Stuck

We have all encountered the situation where emptying the trash simply doesn’t work or gets stuck. This happens because a file could still be in use or locked. To address that, start by quitting all the apps that are using the file you want to erase, and only then hit “Empty Trash”.

If that doesn’t work, there might be one or more background processes using the file. In this case it is recommended to restart your Mac and then empty the trash.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

If that doesn’t solve the issue, you might have a startup or login item using the file. You can temporarily prevent such processes from opening it automatically by rebooting your Mac in safe mode by holding down the Shift key during startup. Then you can empty the trash and restart your computer normally.

Emptying Trash Using Terminal Commands

If you aren’t afraid of controlling your Mac using Terminal commands, it is possible to empty the trash using the following command:

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Emptying the trash with Terminal seems faster than using macOS’s graphical user interface. If you get an error message, you will need to use the sudo command, which will prompt you for your administrator password:

Emptying Trash Using Mac Optimization Software

Safe Emptying of Trash in Onyx

Detecting Trash With CleanMyMac

The fact is using Terminal commands is not everyone’s favorite method of cleansing your Trash, and in these cases third party Mac optimization apps can help. OnyX (free), for example, has such a feature included in the cleaning section under the “Trash” tab. Simply selecting “Delete” will empty all items from Trash.

The process is even easier with CleanMyMac using its trash bins feature, too: this will remove the contents of not only the desktop trash, but also other trash bins.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

While Apple has added a number of new features including the split view mode in El Capitan, it has removed some old features as well. One of these features that was removed is secure empty trash that allowed users to make sure their trash files could never be recovered. The feature was removed due to it being unstable, as it did not work properly with some specific hardware.

While the feature is gone from El Capitan, there is still a way for you to perform the equivalent of that feature. You can still securely empty the Trash on your Mac but will do it with a Terminal command.

Note: The method below deletes the chosen files and/or directories permanently. The actions are irreversible, and you will never have access to the deleted files again no matter what method you use, so please be cautious while doing the task.

Emptying the Trash Securely in OS X El Capitan

In order to accomplish the task, all you need is a command and access to the Terminal app.

1. Click on Launchpad in your dock, search for and click on Terminal, and it will launch for you.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

2. Here you need to specify what you are going to delete. First, you will learn how you can delete an individual file, and then how you can delete an entire directory.

To delete a file you are going to use the following command and the directory path at the end of the command. In the example below, we delete the file named “Image-1.png” that is located in the “Unwanted Files” folder on the desktop. Press Enter after you have entered the command.

3. As soon as you press Enter, the selected file will be gone forever. Terminal should let you know by saying “done” in its window which means the file was successfully deleted.

4. Now that you learned how to delete an individual file permanently, here’s how you can delete an entire directory.

To delete a directory, you will use another flag with the srm command.

To do that type the following command into the Terminal window and press Enter. To fill-in the directory path, drag and drop the directory onto the Terminal window, and the path will automatically be filled.

5. Again, you will get the same “done” message that confirms the selected directory was successfully deleted.

The files that you delete using the above command will be gone forever, and you will never be able to recover them unless, of course, you have backed them up somewhere.

For those who are looking for an easier way to securely delete files, try the tutorial here to add a Delete option in the context menu.


If you are concerned about the security of the files that you have deleted, the above guide should help you get peace of mind by assuring you that your deleted files will never be recovered by anyone.

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Mahesh Makvana is a freelance tech writer who’s written thousands of posts about various tech topics on various sites. He specializes in writing about Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android tech posts. He’s been into the field for last eight years and hasn’t spent a single day without tinkering around his devices.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Is your Mac taking forever to empty the trash? Well the reason for this could be down to one simple hidden setting; Secure Empty trash has been turned on by default. Before explaing how to configure this setting let me start by explaining what it is and how it works.

Most people believe that when they have deleted a file it is removed from the computers hard drive permanently, unfortunately it isn’t quite as simple as that.

Instead of the file being destroyed in many cases it is just the index that remembers the location of the files data that is erased, which leaves the actual data still salvageable by some data recovery programs. Secure empty trash is a utility thats built into Mac OS X that attempts foils data recovery methods by repeatedly writing over the blocks the deleted files occupied. A side effect of this security measure is that it much much slower to empty trash.

Follow these steps to configure the Secure Empty Trash default setting:

1. Go to the Finder menu and choose preferences, this will open the Finder Preferences panel.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

2. choose advanced from the top menu.

3. Untick the Empty Trash securely option.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Before you go

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Want to Force empty trash on Mac to permanently delete files and to save some storage space? This article is all about Methods to empty trash on Mac is explained in detail in the simple steps.

First, we will come to know how the files will move to the Trash.
There are a few ways to delete a file on a Mac and how those will be moved to Trash on Mac.

Table of Contents

How to delete files on Mac Or How to send files to Trash on Mac

1.You can drag and drop any files on to the trash icon in the dock.
You can right-click on any file and choose the option “Move to Trash” from the options.

2.You can click on the file and press the command “Command + Delete” to move it into the Trash icon in the dock.

However, these methods won’t actually delete anything from your Mac machine, the files will just remain in your Trash until you delete them for good. This is actually a good way to say to make sure that you don’t accidentally delete or remove something you need. But if you actually want to recover some storage space to boost your Mac, then definitely you will need to know how to delete files from your Trash.

When you put a file or move the file into the Mac’s trashcan, it is not said as deleted. But it’s just one easy step away from deletion and below methods will help you to know how to empty the trash.

Hint: If you don’t mind about spending little amount to boost your Mac speed automatically by removing trash and all other cached files, then we suggest you use MacPaw Cleanmymac. Don’t want to spend money then continue reading for the manual methods.

Methods to empty trash on Mac

Below are the methods that will explain to you in detail how to empty trash on the Mac machine.

Method-1: How to empty trash folder on Mac from Trash icon in the dock

Deleting files from the Trash on a Mac machine is not usually that much hard. Just follow these steps to make it.

  • All the items like files, images, folders deleted from your Mac will move to the Trash.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • Now you can click on the Trash icon in the Dock and choose the option “Empty Trash”.
  • Otherwise, you can also empty the trash by pressing three keyboard keys consecutively as “Command + Shift + Delete”.
  • Then You should see a warning with a dialog box “Are you sure you want to permanently erase the items in the Trash” because you cannot undo this action again,
  • You should think and make a decision here because the files or items deleted or removed from Trash cannot be recovered and even can’t undo also.
  • You can actually bypass the warning message “Are you sure you want to permanently erase the items in the Trash?” step, by pressing the keys consecutively as “Command + Option/Alt + Shift + Delete”.
  • Related: 5 Best PDF editor softwares for Mac and Windows
  • How to convert Word, Excel, Image to PDF

Method-2: How to securely empty the trash on your Mac to Permanently delete the files

Making the trash empty is usually sufficient to get rid of the files that you don’t want anymore.

But emptying the trash does not really destroy the files, they remain on the hard drive. As a result, some deleted files can be recovered using disk recovery software like Wondershare Recoverit.

Sometimes it is required for you to delete files that are particularly sensitive: Financial records, for example, intimate photos, or other data you absolutely don’t want anyone to get their hands on, under any circumstances.

Secure Empty Trash takes a longer time but provides a more secure form of file deletion. Use at your own discretion as you wish.

  • Firstly, click and hold on the Trashcan icon in the Dock.
  • Hold down the command key and click on the Trash.
  • “Empty Trash” will now change to the “Secure Empty Trash” text in the options list.
  • Select the option “Secure Empty Trash” now.
  • You can even do it from any open Finder window.
  • Click on the Finder menu, and select “Secure Empty Trash” option to empty files in Trash more securely.

Method-3: How to force empty Trash Bin on Mac Using Terminal

  • Open the Terminal on your Mac.
  • Now type this command followed by a space and please DO NOT PRESS ENTER AFTERWARD. “Sudo rm –R ”
  • Please note that the command will not work suppose if you don’t add space after R.
  • Now make a Control-click Trash from the Dock.
  • Select all the files in the Trash Bin present.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • You should now Drag and Drop the files into the Terminal window.
  • This will create the path to each file to remove the command which you entered earlier above.
  • Now press Enter button.
  • Enter your Admin password if it is asked you to enter and continue the process.
  • The password you enter will not be visible anymore. It appears as if nothing has changed.
  • Now press Enter button again.

The deleting process will start now after all the above steps and it will take couple of minutes or more depending on the files size that you are making empty.

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Method-4: How to empty trash using Finder

Use this tip if you would like to make sure that your Mac always securely deletes the files every time when you empty the Trash.

  • Open the Finder.
  • Now you can click on the Finder menu from the top.
  • You can choose “Empty Trash” from the options list. This will delete the items from Trash.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • Select the “Preferences” option.
  • Check the “Empty Trash Securely” option to empty trash securely.
  • You can even have the best feature to select in Advanced Settings from the Preferences window.
  • You can choose the option by check/uncheck the checkbox “Show warning before emptying the Trash”.
  • You can choose the option by check/uncheck the checkbox “Remove items from the Trash after 30 days”. This will automatically empty the trash after 30 days without manually emptying.

How to securely empty the trash in os x


Now you have your methods to make the Trash emptied of the stubborn files and folders which wouldn’t have deleted just like that. And remember files deleted using Terminal will not be restored at any cost and be extra cautious while selecting the files from Trash.

We suggest you use MacPaw Cleanmymac to automatically clean your Trash and all other cache files to boost Mac performance.

I hope you like my tutorial about Methods to empty Trash on Mac. If you Like it!! then please Share it. If you want to add anything to it, please let us know through the comments section.

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You can’t ask your kid to do it

If you’re facing issues getting rid of all the files in the Trash on your Mac, you’ll want to force empty Trash on those Mac files. It’ll force the files to be deleted letting you have an empty Trash app on your Mac machine.

There are various factors that may cause your Trash not to get emptied on a Mac. Maybe your files are locked and this is preventing you from what you’re doing. Or maybe there are other issues with the files in the Trash that prevent the entire task of emptying the Trash from being executed.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Regardless, you have several ways to get around the issue on your machine. You can start from the most simplest and then work your way up with more complex ones until you find the method that works for you.

Quit The App That Was Using The File

One of the reasons why you can’t empty the Trash on your Mac is because one of the files in there is being used by an app on your machine. You’ll need to first close the app that uses the file and you’ll then be able to clean-up the Trash.

  • While on any screen, press the Command + Option + Esc keyboard shortcut.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • A box will appear listing the current open apps on your Mac. Click on the one you think is using your Trash file and then hit the Force Quit button.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Once the app is closed, you’ll be able to empty the Trash.

Restart To Force Empty Trash on Mac

One of the simple solutions you can try to fix the issue is to reboot your Mac. The reason why you’re suggested to do it is because rebooting your machine closes all the apps and clears the contents of RAM.

If any of these elements were preventing the Trash from being emptied, rebooting your Mac should fix the issue for you. Also, it’s easy and quick to do and does no harm to your machine.

  • Click on the Apple logo at the top-left corner and select Restart.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • When the Mac restarts, right-click on the Trash and select Empty Trash.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Force Empty Trash on Mac Using The Safe Mode

If you still can’t get your Mac OS X Trash icon to empty, it may be that there’s a startup app preventing the Trash from being cleaned-up. The app launches at each reboot and so rebooting your Mac also doesn’t help in fixing the issue.

In this case, your best option is to use the Mac safe mode. It’ll only load the essential files for booting.

  • Reboot your Mac and hold down Shift when it boots-up.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • Empty the Trash as you would normally.

Unlock Files Before Emptying The Trash

Certain locked files may cause issues with the procedure to force empty Trash on your Mac. Since these files are locked, they need to be first unlocked before you can remove them when you empty the Trash.

Locking and unlocking files are actually pretty easy on a Mac and you can do it as the following.

  • Right-click on the locked file and select Get Info.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • Untick the box that says Locked and the file will be unlocked.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • Empty the Trash as you would normally and it’ll work without any issues.

Delete The Problematic Files Individually In The Trash

A single or a few files may cause your entire Trash not to go empty. If this is the case with you, you might want to find the files that you think are problematic and first remove them individually.

Once that’s done, you can go ahead and empty the entire Trash at once.

  • Click on the Trash icon to open it.
  • Find the file you think is problematic, right-click on it, and select Delete Immediately.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • Do it until your issue is resolved.

Force Empty Trash on Mac Using Terminal

Where graphical user interfaces often fails, Terminal works and gets the job done for you. You can use this command line app to empty the Trash as well. There’s a command you can use in the tool that cleans up all the files currently residing in the Trash on your Mac.

  • Launch Terminal from the Launchpad on your Mac.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

  • Type in the following command and hit Enter.

  • Since it’s a sudo command, you’ll be asked to enter your password. Do so and continue.

When the command is executed, your Trash will be empty.

Securely Empty Trash on Mac

When it comes to emptying the Trash on Mac, you actually have two ways to do it. Other than the normal right-click and empty option, you have one more option that’s visible when you’ve opened the Trash on your Mac.

You can use the option to securely erase all the files in the Trash. It should fix the issue that prevents you from emptying your Trash.

  • Open the Trash on your Mac.
  • Click on the Finder menu at the top and select Secure Empty Trash.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Use a Third-Party App To Force Empty Trash on Mac

In most cases, the default methods should get the issue fixed for you and you should have no issues emptying the Trash. However, if you haven’t been able to get any of those methods to work, you might want to look into third-party apps to see if something’s available.

There’s actually a free app available called Trash It! that lets you empty the Trash on your Mac with a single-click. It can also be used to delete individual files from your Mac if emptying the Trash is not what you want to do straightaway.

  • Download the Trash It! app on your Mac.
  • Open the app and it’ll empty your Trash.

That’s all there is to it.

Mahesh has been obsessed with technology since he got his first gadget a decade or so ago. Over the last few years, he’s written a number of tech articles on various online publications including but not limited to MakeTechEasier and Android AppStorm. Read Mahesh’s Full Bio

If you’ve been using OS X El Capitan for a while, you might have noticed that the old option to “Secure Empty Trash” is gone from the trash can’s right-click menu. There’s a pretty good reason why, but it’s still possible to do it you don’t mind digging into the command line.

As the name suggests, “Secure Empty Trash” was always a way to delete files securely, ensuring they can’t get dug up again by data recovery software. According to Apple , it turns out that “Secure Empty Trash” doesn’t reliably work on flash storage, like an Solid-State Drive, so Apple removed the option in El Capitan. SSDs don’t store data in the same way as hard drives . As Macworld explains it , HDDs suffer wear with each write and erasure because they write to the same area each time, whereas SSD distributes that wear across the drive. So, with an SSD it’s harder to ensure specific memory locations are erased because the data isn’t reliably in the same place after each write. Thus, the old way “Secure Empty Trash” worked doesn’t work as well on SSDs.

Of course, not everyone running El Capitan has a SSD, but if you want to securely delete a file you’ll need to dig into the command line. Note: this will delete a file for good, so make sure you know what you’re doing and you select the correct file. Open up Terminal (Applications > Utilities) and type in (as the video above from OS X Daily points out, you can drag a file from Finder instead of typing in the path manually) :

For example, if I wanted to securely delete a screenshot from desktop (for some reason), the command would look like this:

Can I Restore Files After Secure Empty Trash?

There’s a reason why Secure Empty Trash feature is not enabled on Mac systems by default. Besides taking much longer time that usual, this might shorten the overall lifespan of the hard drive. This is not recommended for a normal user unless you have highly confidential data to delete. Let’s see what exactly happens during a Secure Empty Trash option is executed.

Secure Empty Trash is a unique feature included in Mac OS X that performs a 1 X pass erasure of the data. The data that is deleted using Secure Empty Trash feature is overwritten by junk data so that it is not recoverable using any data recovery softwares.

In a normal delete action, only the address to locate that file on the drive is erased, leaving rest of the data intact. The deleted content certainly becomes invisible to the operating system but is never technically removed from that volume unless that space is overwritten by any new content. If you are using Secure Empty Trash option to delete a file, it deletes the file and replaces its data with junk contents on that volume.

However in all other cases, except from Secure Empty Trash, data can be recovered using a powerful data restoration tool such as Remo Recover. You can use Remo Recover to perform data recoveries on various kinds of situations such as accidental erasure, drive format / partitioning errors, volumes affected with bad sectors, to mention a few. You can get more information about Remo Recover on our main site.

by Jenefey Aaron Updated on 2021-08-30 / Update for Mac Data

If you are using Mac, then putting any file in Trash means that files have been marked for permanent deletion. But for the moment it is only marked, until you empty the trash the file will still exist inside the trashcan, just like in real life. If you have a lot of free space on the device then you can neglect to empty the trashcan but what if you need space or out of fear that someone may get those files from your computer, you are thinking of completely eliminating those files. So, how to empty trash on Mac, the procedure is very easy and it is elaborated below in this detailed guide.

Part 1: How to Secure Empty Trash on Mac?

Mac works a bit differently! On most devices just clearing the trash is enough to get rid of those unwanted files but if you are using Mac then you should know that those files aren’t being deleted. They are still on your Mac, just waiting to be overwritten next time you need space. This is the reason some of the trashed files can be recovered. But the problem is that some of us sometimes handle some very sensitive information that can not fall into the wrong hands under any circumstances.

This is the reason Apple has introduced the feature called Secure Empty Trash. Using this you can secure empty trash Mac, it will overwrite the deleted files with useless data. How to clear trash on Mac? The guide is mentioned below:

Step 1: First of all, if you use the Secure Trash then it will take longer to get rid of those files.

Step 2: So, open your Mac and click and hold on the Trashcan.

Step 3: Now, hold the Command Key and just click on the Trash.

Step 4: Then, Empty Trash will be converted to Secure Trash.

Step 5: If you want to do it from the Finder window, it will be easier. Just click on Finder menu and choose Secure Empty Trash.

As you can see using the Secure Trash feature is very easy and doing it will definitely protect all of your important files from falling into the wrong hands.

Part 2: How to Solve If You Cannot Empty Trash on Mac?

All of these years if you just sent the files to trashcan then it took a lot of space of your device but what if you tried to remove them from the trashcan but you were unable to do that. The only way remains is to force empty trash Mac. But, do you know how to delete trash on Mac forcibly? Well, you can find the answer below.

If the file is still being used:

Step 1: Then you have to stop any app that is using that particular file.

Step 2: If it does not work then the app may have more than one background processes going on. So, you have to restart the Mac and then empty the trash.

Step 3: Unfortunately, if that does not work then the only way to delete the file is to enter safe mode and empty the trash.

If the problem is different:

Step 1: Then run MacOS Recovery by tapping Command plus R key and when the Utility interface appears you have to click on “Disk Utility” and after that click “Continue”.

Step 2: In the Disk Utility you must choose the disk that contains that file you need to delete, now, you have to use the First Aid feature to fix the disk.

Step 3: Finally, quit Disk Utility, restart the Mac and then empty the trash.

Part 3: How to Recover Data from Emptied Trash on Mac?

Above we mentioned how to empty the trash on your Mac if it does not automatically perform that task. But what if one day you fixed that problem and cleared the trash and realized that there was a very important file that you sent to the trash which you need urgently. So, the best way to recover your deleted files from Mac trash is to use a third-party tool called Tenorshare 4DDiG Data Recovery. This tool is able to recover any lost or deleted or formatted data within a few minutes. Here’s how you can operate the program:

Step 1: You need to start by download and install the app on your Mac device.

Step 2: Now, run Tenorshare Any Data Recovery for Mac on your device.

Step 3: Go to the main interface of the software and select the location to recovery.

Step 4: Click “Scan” and wait for a while, you will all deleted files displayed for preview.

Step 5: Select the files you accidently deleted and click on “Recover” to restore that lost file.

Using this app you will be able to single-handedly recover all of your lost files. Although this is a fairly new app, its efficiency and convenience have impressed a lot of people.


Ultimately, we can say that emptying the trashcan is very important on Mac. Basically, the file still stays on the device hogging more and more space, also if the file is very sensitive, then anyone can get access to that file and finally staying too long inside the trash it can get corrupted and may not get deleted even when you want to remove it. So, just follow the simple procedures mentioned in the article and empty before it is too late. And we highly recommend Tenorshare 4DDiG Data Recovery for all your lost or deleted data recovery needs.

Updated on 2021-08-30 / Update for Mac Data

Whidbey Island & Seattle Mac Consulting

When you put a file into Trash and then empty the Trash, you aren’t really deleting or destroying that file. If you really want to destroy that file, you should use Secure Empty Trash, which will overwrite the file. To do this, put a file into Trash, then click on the Finder menu and select Secure Empty Trash.

[Update: December 2015. Starting with OS X El Capitan (aka OS X 10.11), Apple has removed the Secure Empty Trash option because it can’t be guaranteed to work with solid-state drives (SSDs). This Intego article discusses the situation and the ways to securely erase files in OS X El Capitan.]

Typically, when you select Empty Trash the file is not destroyed. Instead, the only thing that happens is the removal of a record indicating that the file exists in some assigned location. The removal of this record indicates that the file’s storage location is available for re-use. Some day, maybe many months later, the computer will store a new file in that same location. This storage process over-writes the original file. This effectively destroys the original file. As you can see, files are never really deleted. File deletion is really a misnomer. Instead, the way to delete a file is to over-write it.

The Secure Empty Trash command does just this. Choosing Secure Empty Trash causes files to be over-written. In fact they are over-written seven times! Be aware that over-writing a file seven times takes time, so securely emptying your Trash takes noticeably longer than merely emptying your Trash. If you’re deleting hundreds or thousands of files, don’t be surprised if it takes 30 or 60 minutes or longer to securely empty the Trash. If you would like to configure your Macintosh to automatically use Secure Empty Trash, by default, as opposed to the old-fashioned Empty Trash, do this:

  • Go to the Finder menu, select Preferences.
  • Click the Advanced button.
  • Check the box labeled Empty Trash securely.

If you’re going to be getting rid of your computer and want to securely delete (over-write) the entire hard drive, check out a previous Tech Tip about How to Securely Erase a Mac’s Hard Drive.

Note: When some people learn that emptying the Trash doesn’t really delete or destroy files, they get lured into a false sense of security of thinking that these non-destroyed files can be undeleted or recovered. Technically, it might be possible to recover such files, but it is a painstaking process. Here’s a quick overview. First one needs to use a file recovery application to scan the entire hard drive. This scan typically takes hours. During the scan all files which have been deleted, but not yet over-written, will be located and copied onto some other disk. This typically produces folders full of hundreds or thousands of files. It’s important to know that file names are not recovered. Thus, recovered jpeg photos might be named something like image1.jpg, image2.jpg, etc. Thus, after spending hours scanning for and recovering files, one has to spend more time examining each file trying to locate the desired file. As you can see this process is very time-consuming, so don’t rely on it. Instead, set up a backup system using Time Machine. Then learn to restore files from a Time Machine backup. This process typically takes only a few minutes.

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All Tech Tips are provided, as is, without guarantee. If you choose to follow any of the guidance I provide, please make sure you have a full backup of your stuff before you begin. Also, please be aware that there are risks involved in working on your Mac and you assume full responsibility for this risk.

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учитывая, что SSD действительно изнашивается, действительно ли работает Безопасный пустой мусор в меню в MacOSX? Делается ли что-то особенное, чтобы принудительно перезаписать тот же физический блок flash и обойти алгоритмы выравнивания износа, встроенные в SSD?

2 ответов

выравнивание износа SSD создает колючую проблему для безопасного удаления. Выравнивания износа низкий уровень алгоритм работы привода, randomises, где данные записываются. Это происходит независимо от операционной системы.

дизайн, выравнивание износа распространяется несколько записей в тот же файл через флэш-накопитель. При этом файл (например, журнал или файл подкачки) не изнашивает определенную часть памяти. Это держит ваш SSD от преждевременного сбоя, но это также делает его почти невозможно перезаписать определенный блок памяти.

лучше всего, если данные так важны, использовать шифрование на уровне блоков или файлов (например, TrueCrypt).

Да, это действительно работает со всеми обычными предостережениями, предшествующими или исключающими SSD.

Это еще один вопрос все вместе, если пустая корзина надежно действует как замена обрезки (по крайней мере, для файлов, проходящих через процесс мусорной корзины) для Mac, все еще работающих под управлением ОС версии 10.6.7 и выше – которые не имеют поддержки TRIM вообще. Хотя в версии или двух предыдущих 10.6.8 ОС, по крайней мере, сообщит вам, поддерживает ли ваш диск TRIM. Но это несколько другое вопрос.

Да, когда вы безопасно очищаете корзину от версий OS X 10.7, 10.8 и 10.9, она перезаписывает достаточно исходного файла, чтобы считаться фактическим “безопасным стиранием”. Безопасный, однако, является относительным термином, и то, как SSD работают на самом деле 100% безопасно стереть что-либо из них вам нужно будет отформатировать / протрите диск с 7-pass secure erase, который является стандартом МО (Министерство обороны).

вы просто спрашиваете о мусорном баке, но вы должны держать в имейте в виду, что когда большинство приложений сохраняют файлы, они (небезопасно) удаляют старый файл и просто сохраняют совершенно новую копию. Также есть дефрагментация OS X, которая при консолидации файлов оставит старые фрагменты, разбросанные по всему диску. Существуют также другие сценарии, такие как обновления версий, локальные моментальные снимки Time Machine, автосохранение, возобновление, кэш файлов, оставшаяся подкачка и т. д. которые оставят личные данные на диск. Таким образом, 7X Wipe вступает в игру.

Я смотрел видео однажды, где эксперт по безопасности продемонстрировал самый лучший метод безопасного удаления старых жестких дисков. Дешево, быстро, и работает на 100%: он достал молоток и разбил его вдребезги. 🙂

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Check tutorial of Secure Empty Trash in Mac OS X

So after a lot of requests from our users here is a guide about Secure Empty Trash in Mac OS X.

If you need to delete sensitive information and make it completely inaccessible, you will want to use the “Safe Empty Recycle Bin” feature. This works by writing random patterns of data on a file moved to the trash immediately after it is emptied, or deleted from the file system, a process that otherwise occurs over time during normal computing as more files are created and deleted.

There are two easy ways to safely empty the Trash on Mac. To make both options visible to you, you must have a file or folder in the trash or the option will not be visible because there is nothing to trash.

1: How to Quickly secure the recycle bin in Mac OS X with a right click

Mac OS X makes it easier than ever to access secure file deletion:

  • Command + right click the trashcan
  • Select ‘Safe Empty Trash

How to securely empty the trash in os x

You must hold down the “Command” key while right-clicking the trash can icon in the Dock, otherwise the Protected option is not visible.

2: How to Secure Empty Trash from Finder Menu

The “Safely Empty” option is also accessible from the Finder menu, and the resulting behavior is identical in that it overwrites the deleted data:

  • With something in the trash, pull down the ‘Finder’ menu and choose ‘Safe Empty Trash’

How to securely empty the trash in os x

Using secure empty takes a little longer than emptying the trash as normal, this is because the above-mentioned overwrite process takes place. The more files you safely delete, the longer this process will take.

Get into the habit of using Secure Empty Trash when you delete something that is really sensitive and you don’t want others to access it again. Things like financial statements, credit card information, personal files and journals, or removing the source files and completed documents from openssl file encryption.

Enable Safe Emptying as the default recycle bin method

For almost every version of Mac OS X, there is also an option to always empty the trash safely, enabled in Advanced Finder’s preferences. If you regularly work with private data, this is a good thing feature to turn on.

How to securely empty the trash in os x

While the Secure Empty Trash feature makes data recovery significantly more difficult even by professional data recovery services, if you want real data deletion without traces then performing safe format from hard drive is the safest bet and is always recommended when transferring ownership of Mac or the Hard Drive.

Secure Empty Trash in Mac OS X Guide is free?

Secure Empty Trash in Mac OS X: benefits

  • The Secure Empty Trash in Mac OS X tutorial is free .
  • Helps many users follow up with interest in a timely manner.
  • The price of the Secure Empty Trash in Mac OS X guide is free.

Secure Empty Trash in Mac OS X: FAQ

Tutorial Summary: Secure Empty Trash in Mac OS X

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Secure Empty Trash in Mac OS X Tutorial: final note

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How to securely empty the trash in os x

Emptying the trash on your Mac might sound like a simple task but, unfortunately, software issues are not to be underestimated. Many Mac users have been complaining because they can’t empty the trash on Mac for unknown reasons. While others are looking for a way to securely empty trash on Mac. You might be wondering what the purpose of the latter action is. The answer is simple – by securely emptying the trash, the user can prevent data from being recovered. Typically, users rely on this to dispose of sensitive data, especially if it was stored temporarily on a system.

Securely Empty Trash on Mac El Capitan and Below

If you are a Windows user, then you might not have come across the ability to securely empty trash. Thankfully, this feature is available on Mac or, at least it used to be available on versions older than El Capitan – the feature was removed in this version. Back then you could right-click the Trash Bin icon and select the Secure Empty Trash icon. This would remove the files from the trash, but it would then perform an extra task – the empty space left behind would be rewritten by zeros and ones and then erased again. This renders data recovery software useless when trying to recover data from this particular section of the disk.

Securely Deleting Files on Newer Mac Versions

If you are using a more contemporary version of macOS, then you might still be able to erase the trash securely. However, it requires a few extra steps, as well as working with the macOS Terminal. If you are not tech-savvy, then we advise you to be careful with these steps – it is easy to mess up and delete data that you did not want to remove. Inexperienced Mac users should handle the task through 3rd-party tools.

In this step, we will not be emptying the trash, technically. Instead, we will be deleting files directly, rendering them impossible to recover. We will start by making a small tweak to your macOS settings:

Computing & Information Services

Securely Deleting Sensitive Data on a Mac

Even after you have deleted files from your machine, they may still be recovered by special file-recovery software. If you have sensitive data on your machine and need to delete it securely, there are two methods to use:

Note: Mac OS can keep a copy of your files in a “Recovered Files” folder in the trash. If you have been working on encrypted files or other sensitive data and see this folder in your trash, you should use the Secure Empty Trash option to securely erase them from your computer.

Warning! The following methods will PERMANENTLY delete the files in your trash and other files you have previously deleted. CIS will NOT be able to recover them afterwards!

Method 1: Secure Empty Trash

  1. Move the files into your trash (at the end of the Dock).
  2. From the Finder menu, select Secure Empty Trash . This may take some time, depending on how large the files are.

Method 2: Erase Free Space

If you have already deleted sensitive data from your machine, or just want to make sure that the files you have deleted are not recoverable, use this option. It will take a long time, so plan ahead if you need to use it.

  1. Launch the Disk Utility Application, from Applications/Utilities on your hard drive.
  2. Select the name of your hard drive (e.g. Macintosh HD) in the left hand pane of the Disk Utility window.
  3. In the right hand pane, choose Erase Free Space . You may choose from Zero out Deleted Files, 7-Pass Erase of Deleted Files, or 35-Pass Erase of Deleted Files.

Note: The last two options will take 7 and 35 times longer than writing zeros; they may take a very long time. Zeroing the data will prevent normal recovery tools from being able to retrieve the data, while 7 times overwrite exceeds the Department of Defense standard 5220.22.

Contact CUS with any questions about securely deleting files from your Mac.

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