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Quick Tip: Skip ‘Taking Out the Trash’ When Deleting Files

Trash IconWe all forget to take out the trash from time to time. And this can ultimately lead to dinner for the neighborhood raccoons, or in your Mac’s case, someone getting their eyes on that document that you thought was gone forever.

If you’re the forgetful type or you use the trash as an un-glorified “saved files” folder, El Capitan provides you with a way to delete files without the added step of emptying them from the trash. You might want to do this if you would like an item deleted but have other items remain in the trash that you’re still undecided on.

So, how’s it done? There are a couple of ways that we’ll show you. However, this action is permanent, so you’ll want to be absolutely sure that you’re ready to delete the file from your machine.

1.) The easiest way to do this is with a simple keyboard command. Just select the file that you want to delete from your Mac and hold down the Option, Command, Delete keys. You will then be asked whether you’re sure you want to delete the file.

Screentrash12.) The second way to achieve this is through the File menu. Select the file you want to delete, and access the File menu. You’ll notice that when you hold down the Option key in the File menu, the “Move to Trash” option becomes “Delete Immediately…”. Once you choose Delete Immediately, you will once again be asked whether you’re sure you want to delete the file.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully cut out the middleman when disposing your garbage.

Want more OS X and iOS tricks? Check out the Rocket Yard’s Tech Tips section!

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  • OWC Folks-This advice is a little misleading, don’t you think? On an HD, the only ways to really “delete” a file, so that it’s unrecoverable, are to shred the file, before deleting it, or to shred the free space on your HD, no? Without taking one of those steps, there’s a whole lot of software, e.g., MacKeeper, that can recover deleted files. With an SSD, it’s probably less of a problem, because the processes of garbage collection and wear-levelling will erase all deleted files, eventually, right? How long that might take, on average, I have no idea.