How to Permanently Delete Files on Mac

We don’t need all the files on our Mac forever, right? Don’t you have some files which you want to delete permanently? There are various reasons for deleting files permanently. Some people do it for storage space. It is possible that your Mac has become old and it can’t upgrade to the next version because you have a lot of data in it. Also, no one would like to see the data leaked by hackers. So there are several methods by which we can permanently delete files on Mac. 

In this article, we will be talking about the several ways by which we can delete files permanently and also if we can restore those deleted files. 

Can We Restore the Files One Deleted? 

Before talking about the methods of deleting files permanently on Mac, let us first know if we can restore them or not. Well, the answer is yes, we can restore the deleted files. You might want to restore if you delete something by mistake or want a deleted file for some work. You can restore data or files in such situations from the backups. 

Today, there are various data recovery technologies and software which can be used to restore the deleted files. Technologically skilled people can easily restore your deleted files from a hard drive. The new advanced Macs come with the flash drive or fusion drive instead of the old hard disk drives. Fusion and flash drives hamper deleting the files securely as it comes with an SSD. 

The old Macs have a regular HDD. The new Macs have SSD that allows using the proper method of moving files and cleaning the trash to erase the files. In HDD, the deletion is secured. It doesn’t work with SSD as overwriting a file creates a new file in the new location and this doesn’t overwrite the content of the old file. 

Methods for Permanently Delete Files on Mac 

There are several methods that we can use to delete files permanently from Mac. It doesn’t matter if your Mac has HDDs or SSDs. You can check your Mac’s storage by going to the Apple logo on the upper left side of the screen. Then, go to about this Mac and click on Storage. Below the disk icon, it will display if your Mac has HDD or SSD. Now let us talk about the methods of deleting the files permanently. 

1. Moving the Files to Trash

This is the most practical method to delete files from your Mac. Simple drag the file you want to delete to the trash. If you right-click the file you want to delete, you will get the Move to Trash option, it can also be used to delete the files. After this, you can go to the Trash and empty it. 

You can also use the Delete immediately option, it skips the trash when you delete the file. This means the file will be deleted directly without making trash the mediator. This feature was introduced by Apple with OS X 10.11 El Capitan. This option makes deleting a file permanently much easier as you just need to select the file and use the Option-Command- Delete shortcut. 

You can also go to Finder and under the file menu, you can change the Move to Trash option into Delete immediately. Confirm the deletion and the file will be gone permanently. There is also a way to skip this confirmation. To skip the confirmation dialog window, press the shortcut Command-Option-Shift-Delete on your keyboard. This will confirm the deletion immediately and empty the trash. 

It has all become a bit of a mess right? If you are finding it all difficult to remember, let me let you know a simple way. You can kill the confirmation. Go to Finder’s menu, preferences, and uncheck the Show warning before emptying the trash. 

2. Securely Emptying Trash 

Securely emptying the trash from your Mac is another easy way to delete files permanently. This method makes sure that the files are deleted forever. It does so by writing random data on it several times. It overwrites the data about seven times to increase security. 

Delete Files on Mac

To use this option, go to Finder’s menu and select Secure Empty Trash. You will find this option below Empty Trash. It is one of the simplest ways to delete files without any chaos. 

3. Use Third-Party App

Sometimes, emptying the trash might not be as easy as it looks. In such a situation, you can use a third-party application that will force the trash to empty. Some examples of such apps are Clean My Mac, Permanent Eraser, and many more. These apps help in cleaning the trash completely and permanently.

4. Use Mac Terminal 

A terminal is a tool of Mac that allows completing certain tasks like deletion of files in a few seconds. This tool uses the UNIX commands to carry out some functions quickly with the operating system in the process. It is a powerful and efficient tool that has made deleting files even easier. 

But Terminal can be dangerous if you haven’t used it previously. Before using the tool, get a brief about the commands in the tool. If you enter the wrong commands it can affect the system of your Mac. When you are using terminal commands every minor detail is important like space or a comma. If you are all prepared then you can follow the steps below to get started. 

Step 1 – Go to Finder and click Application, then Utilities, and then Terminal. 

Step 2 – A command with a $ sign will appear on the window. The command line which you will see is the terminal language of Mac. 

delete files on mac from terminal

Step 3 – frame and type a valid command and click on the Return key after every command to execute them. You can also copy-paste the commands. Next, type rm and space, then hold, drag, and leave the file you want it to be deleted permanently from Mac into the terminal window. Press enter and the file will be gone forever. 


So these were easy methods by which we can permanently delete files from Mac. I could suggest having a backup of the data you want to delete in case something goes wrong. There is nothing wrong with keeping backups. Also, whichever method you choose to delete the files make sure that you have all the details and ideas of the method. Like in the case of terminal commands, you won’t be able to delete without the knowledge of the command, and also you might end up damaging your system. So choose the right and effective method for yourself.


  • How do you delete a file that won’t delete? 

There are several methods to delete a file that won’t delete like close windows explorer, close apps, use safe mode, reboot windows, use a software deletion app, and many more. You can choose any of these methods; whichever you feel will work for you. 

  • How do you delete multiple files on Mac? 

You can delete several files at the same time by going to Finder. Then select the folder where you have all the files you want to delete. Next, hold the command key and select the files you want to delete and then drag them to trash. 

  • Does rebooting Mac delete all files?

If you restart or reboot your Mac it will clear the system’s memory and start it up fresh. When you restart, the Mac closes all the running programs and saves the file you were working on. After you choose to save, the boot up will be done again. 

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