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OS X Mavericks: Remove files and folders from your Mac

Remove files and folders from your Mac

You can get rid of files, folders, and other items that you no longer need.

If you turned off Time Machine and don’t back up your files, before you remove an item you may want to store a backup copy on a CD, DVD, or other storage device, just in case you change your mind and want to retrieve the item later.

Remove an item from your Mac

  1. Drag the item to the Trash, located at the end of the Dock. Or select the item, then press Command (⌘)-Delete.

    Trash in the Dock

  2. Choose Finder > Empty Trash, or press Shift–Command (⌘)-Delete. When you see a warning message, click OK.

    If you see a Finder > Secure Empty Trash option but not a Finder > Empty Trash option, see:

    If there’s no Empty Trash command in the Finder menu

Remove a locked item from your Mac

You must unlock the item before putting it in the Trash.

  1. Select the item, then choose File > Get Info or press Command (⌘)-I.
  2. Deselect the Locked checkbox in the General section. If you don’t own the item, you may need to provide an administrator’s name and password.
  3. Put the item in the Trash, then choose Finder > Empty Trash or press Shift–Command (⌘)-Delete. When you see a warning message, click OK.

Securely empty the Trash

Even after you empty the Trash, deleted files can be recovered using data-recovery software. For extra security, you can delete files so they can’t be recovered.

  1. Drag the item to the Trash.
  2. Choose Finder > Secure Empty Trash. When you see a warning message, click OK.

Files deleted in this way are completely overwritten by meaningless data. This may take some time, depending on the size of the files.

To prevent the recovery of files you deleted previously, open Disk Utility, choose Help > Disk Utility Help, then search for help on erasing free disk space.

Prevent the Trash warning message from appearing

  • Press the Option key when you choose Empty Trash.
  • You can also turn off the warning in the Advanced pane of Finder preferences. Choose Finder > Preferences.

If you change your mind

Click the Trash icon to open it, then drag the item out of the Trash, or select the item and choose File > Put Back.

Last Modified: May 8, 2014
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  • Last Modified: May 8, 2014
  • Article: PH13765
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