How To Turbo Delete Your Files [Mac]

Bakari Chavanu 28-01-2013

delete your files macComputers are awesome machines for storing data and precious files. However, we should keep in mind that there are security risks associated with the data stored on any computer hard drive — be it Mac or PC.


Though files on a Mac can be deleted via the trash can, it does not mean trashed and deleted files are removed from the computer’s directory. The normal deletion of files simply make space on the computer disk for for new files, which means those files can still be recovered, with application like Disk Drill. In most cases, trashing files is sufficient for regaining disk space, but if you’re concerned about sensitive files being recovered on your Mac, you need to take additional steps to ensure those files are securely overwritten.

This article covers the default method for securely deleting files, plus a review of two third-party applications that overwrite deleted files.

Secure Empty Trash

The default method for securely deleting files in your Mac’s trash can is to go to the Finder menubar and select “Secure Empty Trash” from the drop-down menu. Using this OS X built-in feature overrides the deleted file 7 times. This means it could take perhaps three to seven times longer than normal to empty the trash.

In Finder Preferences, you can also select to have all your files securely deleted when you empty the trash. However, it is a very slow process when your computer’s trash can is full of 100 megabytes or more of data.

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With Secure Empty Trash, files are overwritten a single time — for example, with a long string of zeros – which should be sufficient for secure deletion. But having the files overwritten 7 times (which apparently is good enough for the US Department of Defense), or 35 times, will make it nearly impossible for any of the securely deleted data to be recovered. Thus keep in mind, when you delete files in this way, there is no way to recover such data.

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Also note, if you use Time Machine 4 Resources to Become a Backup Master with Time Machine [Mac] Read More on your Mac, files saved to that or any other backup are not automatically deleted when you trash and delete the latest version of the file. You will need to go into your backup hard drive and delete files from there as well.

Paper Shredder

If you’re a Mac power user, no doubt your computer’s trash can is constantly full with all sorts of files. Thus you may find it a hassle to use the Secure Empty Trash when you want to securely delete one or more files at a time. Paper Shredder comes in handy for quickly wiping out critical files when they are dropped onto the application.


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You can keep the application in your Mac’s Dock and simply drop files onto it to activate the secure delete process. Paper Shredder four offers options for secure deletions — from the Standard 7-time pass, to 35-pass Secure Delete—a DoD-compliant Guttman secure delete algorithm.

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In addition, you can have Paper Shredder graphically animate the shredding process to give you that added feeling of security. The application includes an emergency “Stop!” button in case you change your mind mid-shred.


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As of this review, there is no trial download of Paper Shredder. It must be purchased from the Mac App Store for $6.99 [No Longer Available].


Another third-party solution for securely deleting files is the free/donationware application called Supercan (note – at the time of this writing, the website for Supercan failed to download. You can also download the software on MacUpdate.) It includes the same security passes as Paper Shredder, but it allows you to selectively choose files already in your Mac’s trash can.

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Supercan also shows you which hard drives your trashed files came from. And it too provides a graphic animation of the shredding process. However, for secure delete you need to select the “secured” button for each critical file you want securely deleted.

When you select the “Shred all…” button, you also get the option for selecting “Secured mode,” which will speed up the process of selecting and deleting files already in your trash can.

delete your files mac

Securely deleting files may not be a need for most general Mac users, but if you happen to share your Mac with other people, or are planning to sell it one day 4 Things You MUST Do When Selling or Giving Away Your Old Computer, Phone or Tablet Here’s a fun thing I like to do: buy an old hard drive on eBay, then run recovery software on it. It’s a little data treasure hunt, and you’ll be amazed at what you can... Read More , getting in the practice of securely deleting sensitive files is something you should do.

Let us know what you think about the secure deletion process on your Mac. Do you use it often, and have you run into any problems?

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  1. RustyPolo
    March 20, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I never knew that! thanks!

  2. sneha sood
    February 8, 2013 at 4:05 am

    Disk Drill and superscan etc.. are good Mac cleaning software, I am using Mac drive cleaning software of Stellar Drive ToolBox.
    It helps to delete all system junks from your Mac. If you want to wipe your Mac data then use Wipe utility of this Drivetoolbox software.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 14, 2013 at 2:54 am

      Thanks, Snaha, for letting us know about these applications. I've heard of Disk Drill, but have downloaded it yet.

  3. sneha sood
    February 8, 2013 at 4:04 am

    Disk Drill and superscan etc.. are good Mac cleaning software, I am using Mac drive cleaning software of Stellar Drive ToolBox. It helps to delete all system junks from your Mac and Improve mac performance. If you want to wipe your Mac data then use Wipe utility of this Drive toolbox software.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 9, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Sneha sood, I used Disk Drill yesterday on my MBA, and it actually found 3 gigs of files taking up precious space on my computer. I think I'll pay for the full license for it. Thanks for your feedback.

      • Anonymous
        February 13, 2013 at 5:10 am

        Yes, go of luck :)

  4. Scott Hilderbran
    January 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    This is a great alternative to the normal trash. My computer sometimes freezes and takes a long time to do.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 30, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      Hey Scott, good point. Thanks for letting us know.

  5. Mac Witty
    January 29, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I have used secure deletion very rare. Maybe I do not delete enough - a bit of a squirrel saving everything in encrypted folders

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      While I rarely secure delete, I love cleaning out old files and applications I haven't used in a while. I hate all the clutter.

  6. Chase Hainey
    January 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Thankfully I don't ever have information I deem so important that if I delete it. I have to be 100% sure it is gone forever.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 29, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Yep, Chase, that is good.