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OS X Tutorial: Delete files securely from your Mac

Safeguard your privacy, enhance the performance of your Mac and recover valuable disk space. Deleting files might seem like a straightforward process, but we've got some tips to make it easier.

In this day and age, ID theft is more than just an idle threat.
Overloading your Mac with irrelevant or no longer needed documents means that there is always a possibility that, if your machine was stolen, the information could be put to illegal use. Therefore, removing data from your system and keeping as much available disk space as possible should be part of your daily routine. Privacy is not only a personal matter, it is also a highly relevant topic when considering client information, whether this belongs to former or currently employed staff and/or confidential company data. Furthermore, having a system cluttered with irrelevant files, either downloaded from the internet or copied onto your system, can vastly hinder your Mac’s performance and limit your ability to use very valuable disk space. Follow these steps and we will show you how to delete unwanted files safely and securely, so you know you are always protected.

Step 1: Select an item to delete
To delete a file/folder, click on it and, without releasing your click, move it on top of the Trash icon in your dock. Release the click to put it in the Trash.

Step 2: Check what you delete
Check that the intended item is in the Trash. Click on the dock’s Trash icon and, in the window, your file/folder should be in the contents of your Trash.

Step 3: Do your chores – empty the trash
At the top-right of the Trash banner in the Finder window, click on the Empty button to empty the Trash and effectively delete the trashed items.

Step 4: Are you sure?
Upon clicking on the Empty button, a dialog box will ask you to confirm the operation. Click Empty Trash to delete, or Cancel to abort the operation.

Step 5: Empty the Trash securely
To make a trashed item irretrievable, select the Secure Empty Trash menu item in the Finder menu. Click Empty Trash to delete the file, Cancel to abort.

Step 6: Bypass the warning message
To erase without verification, press the Option key when using the Empty button or the Empty Trash/ Secure Empty Trash Finder’s menu items.

Step 7: Free yourself of warning messages
From the Finder menu, select Preferences and Advanced. To disable the confirmation dialog, un-tick Show warning before emptying the Trash.

Step 8: Security as standard
From the Finder menu, select Preferences and click the Advanced tab. Tick the Empty Trash Securely option to enable this method of erasing items.

Step 9: Know your shortcuts
Use Cmd+Delete to move an item to the Trash. Add Shift to empty the Trash, or Shift+Option to empty without a confirmation dialog box.

Click on the image to zoom in and view the annotations.

OS X Delete Files Tutorial Annotations
OS X Delete Files Tutorial Annotations