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The Trash is where any files that are deleted from the Finder in Mac OS X go to. They are kept here so that if you later change your mind, the files can be rescued. If you are a switcher, then the Trash is equivalent to the Windows recycle bin.

The Trash can be found at the right-hand end of the Dock (or the bottom, if the Dock is on the side of the display). Click on it to see the contents of the Trash in the Finder.


Empty or Not?

The Trash icon will change to show you whether it is empty or contains files, as seen in the pictures below:


Deleting items

You delete files and folders by moving them to the Trash. You can:

  • Drag and drop a file on the trash icon in the dock
  • Control-click on a file and select "Move to Trash" from the menu
  • Select a file or files and use the keyboard shortcut: command-backspace
  • Select a file or files and choose "File > Move to Trash" from the menu bar

Emptying The Trash

There are three ways to empty the trash. You can:

  • Control-click or click and hold on the trash icon in the Dock and choose "Empty Trash" from the menu that appears
  • From anywhere in the Finder, choose "Finder > Empty Trash…" from the menu bar
  • From anywhere in the Finder, use the keyboard shortcut command-shift-backspace.

Holding down the option key while doing any of the above will empty the trash without the warning dialog. It will also usually force locked files to be deleted, something that normally would not happen.

Remember, you cannot recover an item after you empty the trash without a special utility, and this may not always work, so use Empty Trash with care. Many Mac users only empty their trash when they notice that their system appears to be slowing down — when the trash occupies nearly the entire available hard drive space — though waiting till the trash gets that full is not necessarily advisable.

Securely Emptying The Trash

If you are particularly concerned about security, then you can make items deleted from the trash absolutely un-recoverable by choosing "Finder > Secure Empty Trash" from the menu bar.

Rescuing Files From The Trash

If you have accidentally deleted a file or folder and wish to rescue it from the Trash, it is very easy to do (as long as you have not emptied the Trash).

  • Open the Trash by clicking its icon in the Dock
  • Find the file(s) or folder(s) that you wish to rescue
  • Drag and drop them from out of the Trash to where you want them