How to Delete Files on Mac? – Permanently Delete Trash!


We all have come across the news of the popular iCloud hack where the photos of celebrities were leaked. The growing use of technology has made our data more vulnerable than ever before. However, there is no denying the increased importance of digital information and related data.

Can’t delete files because the disk is an entire Mac?

To delete files when your Mac’s disk is entire, do the following steps:

  • Boot up Mac in Safe Mode using SHIFT key during Mac startup
  • Press “option+command+delete” to Bypass the Trash when you delete files
  • Open Disk Utility and repair your startup disk
  • Hold “T” to Access your data using Target Disk Mode
  • Erase your startup disk
  • Reinstall macOS

How to empty trash on an external hard drive Mac?

  • Right-click the trash icon on your dock
  • Click “Empty Trash.”

But if you have a flash drive in that case:

How to delete files from a flash drive on Mac?

  • First, Plug the Flash Drive into iMac
  • Open “Applications> Utilities> Disk Utility”
  • Select the flash drive in the left column and highlight it.
  • Click on “Erase” in the upper right tab.
  • Confirm Erase.
  • Drag and drop files into the trash

How do you Secure empty trash on a Mac?

If you see that emptying trash on Mac is taking forever, you need to Secure Empty Trash as your Mac’s default settings. Then, go to Finder > Preferences > Advanced Tab and check or uncheck Empty Trash Securely.


So, when you are planning to give away or resell your Mac, it is natural to feel concerned about the security of your data. Alternately, you may have thought about a situation of your Mac’s theft and cannot help getting apprehensive about your data falling into the wrong hands. In either case, you are eager to know the method by which your files or trash can be permanently deleted. There is more than one way to carry out the task. Depending upon your Mac’s storage system, you can use an application like CleanMyMac or select the permanent deletion option from your Trash app.

Does emptying trash speed up Mac?

Yes, emptying trash can speed up Mac, but only if you have less than 10% disk space. If you have a lot of space on disk and your Mac works slow, the problem is something else. OS X needs some free space to move Mac files around.

The last thing anyone would want to experience is having their Mac hacked and private data accessed. So given is an overview of ways to identify your Mac’s storage system and methods to delete data from both irrevocably:

How is SSD-based Mac Different from HDD-based Mac?

The previous Apple Macs came with the typical spinning HDD (hard disk drive), making absolute deletion a problematic task. But the modern iMac models are generally equipped with fusion drives or flash storage like SSD. With flash memory, it is easier to get rid of the files permanently.

SSDs are considered more durable efficient, and less energy is consuming than traditional HDDs. How SSD functions are distinct as here, Mac’s internal drive draws upon TRIM command. Unlike the conventional hard drives that frequently cause system slowdowns, SSD uses TRIM to let the system eliminate redundant data blocks. The latter does this when you remove the files using the option ‘Empty Trash’ or shortcuts like ‘Command + Opt + Backspace’ or ‘Command + Del.’ With this technique, the process of data accessibility is speeded up alongside making the data retrieval infeasible in the system.

On the other hand, in HDD-based Macs, there is a possibility to reverse the deletion using a data recovery application unless your files are completely overwritten. While the system’s main motive was to help retrieve the files that a person may have accidentally removed, yet some people use it to recover private data from another person’s Mac.  So, even if you have emptied the recycle bin or performed the same operation using other methods, your files can still be recovered.

How to Know Whether your Mac is SSD or HDD-based?

This depends upon the kind of Mac model you are using. The different versions of Mac like iMac, Mac Mini or Pro, MacBook Air or Pro, etc., use different types of storage mediums. Today, most MacBooks are equipped with SSD, but some iMac versions give you a choice to select between Flash Storage and Fusion Drives.

To check the storage system of your Mac, navigate to the ‘Apple’ logo displayed on the upper left corner of the screen. Here, click on ‘About This Mac’ and choose ‘Storage’ under the disk icon. You will notice a line describing that the system is running on a spinning disk hard drive or solid-state SATA drive.

How do you permanently delete trash on a Mac?

To permanently delete trach on a Mac, do the following steps:

  • Find the Finder icon in the Dock
  • Then choose Finder > Empty Trash.

Below is a detailed description of the techniques to erase trash files in SSD and HDD-based Mac:

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Permanent Deletion on Mac with SSD

In an SSD-based Mac, it is pretty straightforward to do away with trash permanently. All you need to do is right-click to delete the unwanted files or drag them to the Trash bin. Then, go to the ‘Trash’ icon and select ‘Empty Trash’ or ‘Delete Permanently.’

Further, if you still feel anxious about the absolute deletion of your files, you can make use of CleanMyMac to ensure 100% non-recovery of deleted data. This software has a free trial and costs $39.99 for annual usage. Follow the given steps to erase the data with CleanMyMac:

  • Firstly, download and install the application ‘CleanMyMac’ on your Mac.
  • Next, launch the app and select the feature ‘Shredder’ present on the app’s lower-left corner.
  • Choose the folders and files that you wish to remove, and proceed.


Permanent Deletion on Mac with HDD

In the case of HDD-based Mac, you will need to utilize a third-party shredder application. Here also, we recommend CleanMyMac as the best software for permanent deletion. However, if you want specialized file shredder software, you can go for BitRaser – a professional utility for data deletion that turns trash files wholly unrecoverable.

Final Tips

Permanent deletion from Mac is worth the effort when you want to prevent leakage of your sensitive or private data. As illustrated above, the exact procedure for absolute removal varies as per the storage media of Mac. Lastly, you can always back up the critical files before carrying out the above-stated functions.

Igor Milosevic
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