How to Permanently Delete Files on Mac

Charlotte Daniels

Mac, Tutorials

When it comes to permanently deleting files on a Mac, there are a few methods you can use. Whether you want to free up disk space or ensure that sensitive data is completely removed from your computer, follow the steps below to securely delete files.

Empty Trash

The first method to permanently delete files on a Mac is by emptying the Trash. When you delete files from your Mac, they are moved to the Trash folder.

However, they are not completely erased until you empty the Trash.

To empty the Trash, simply right-click on the Trash icon in the dock and select “Empty Trash.” Alternatively, you can also press “Command + Shift + Delete” on your keyboard.

Secure Empty Trash

If you want to ensure that your files cannot be recovered using specialized software, you can use the “Secure Empty Trash” feature. This method overwrites the deleted files with random data multiple times, making it nearly impossible to recover them.

To enable “Secure Empty Trash,” go to “Finder” in the menu bar and select “Preferences.”

Under the “Advanced” tab, tick the box next to “Empty Trash securely. “

Once enabled, right-click on the Trash icon and select “Secure Empty Trash” or press “Command + Option + Shift + Delete.” Keep in mind that this method may take longer than regular emptying of the trash due to overwriting data multiple times.

Terminal Command

If you prefer using Terminal commands for file deletion, there’s a handy command called “srm” (secure remove) that can help you permanently delete files on a Mac.

  1. Launch Terminal from Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
  2. Type “srm -v ” followed by a space.
  3. Drag the files you want to delete into the Terminal window. The file paths will be automatically added after the “srm -v” command.
  4. Press Enter to execute the command and permanently delete the files.

Third-Party Applications

If you prefer a more user-friendly approach, there are third-party applications available that specialize in secure file deletion. One popular option is “Permanent Eraser,” which provides a simple drag-and-drop interface and various secure deletion algorithms.

To use “Permanent Eraser,” download and install it from their official website.

Then, simply drag the files or folders you want to delete onto the application’s window. Choose your preferred deletion method and click “Erase” to permanently delete the files.


Now that you know multiple methods to permanently delete files on a Mac, you can choose the one that suits your needs best. Whether you opt for emptying the Trash, using “Secure Empty Trash,” executing Terminal commands, or utilizing third-party applications like “Permanent Eraser,” always double-check before deleting any files to avoid accidental removal of important data.

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