How to Empty the Trash in OS X

by Tom Harrison in mac os x

Yes, this is an article about how to empty the trash in OS X.

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Sometime in 2008, someone on Reddit complained that this site’s articles were too simple, and jokingly suggested the next one might be about “how to empty the trash”. Because I'm a smart-ass, I wrote this article about how to empty the trash in OS X.

Emptying the trash in OS X is a piece of cake. OS X is a magnificently designed operating system, making everyday tasks like clearing out the trash bin a breeze. We will cover three different methods of emptying the trash:

  1. Right-click on the Trash icon.
  2. Open the Trash and use the Finder menu to empty it.
  3. Open the Trash and use the Finder menu to securely empty it.

Right-click on the Trash icon

The Trash icon is located on the right side of the dock. Right click on it. If you have a one button mouse, click it while holding the Ctrl key. When the context menu appears, choose “Empty Trash”.

Right-clicking the Trash icon in the Dock

Empty the Trash from the Finder menu

Open up the Trash by clicking on the Trash Bin icon on the right side of your dock. When the Trash window appears, click Finder → Empty Trash. You will be asked, “Are you sure you want to remove these items in the Trash permanently?” Respond “Yes” if you wish to empty the Trash.

Using the Finder File menu to empty the trash

Securely empty the Trash from the Finder menu

Open up the Trash by clicking the Trash Bin icon on the right side of your dock. When the Trash window appears, click Finder → Securely Empty Trash. You will be asked, “Are you sure you want to erase the items in the Trash permanently using Secure Emtpy Trash?” This method overwrites your trashed files to make them irretrievable.

Securely emptying the trash

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