How to Delete Files on Mac

Two different methods will get you to the end result you're after

What to Know

  • Right-click file you want to delete > select Move to Trash. Tap trash can to open Trash.
  • Next, right-click deleted file(s) > select Delete Immediately.
  • Or, right-click file you want to delete > hold down Option key > select File > Delete Immediately.

This article explains how to delete files from your macOS device using either Trash or the Option key.

How to Delete Files on Your Mac

Follow these steps to move files to the trash can on your Mac and then get rid of them for good:

  1. Right-click the file you would like to delete, then click Move to trash.

    Move to Trash
  2. Once the file has been removed, click the Trash can to open your Trash.

    Open Trash

    Moving files to the trash doesn't completely remove the files from your hard drive. Similar to Microsoft's Windows, you can restore files from your Recycle Bin.

  3. Right-click the deleted file(s) in the trash, then click Delete Immediately.

    Delete Immediately...
  4. You'll be prompted to confirm if you really want to get rid of the file(s). Click Delete and the files are permanently removed from your system.


    You could save some time by just emptying the Trash completely if you need to remove all the files from the Trash can, but before doing so, make sure you really don't need to restore any of the files located there.

Skip the Trash and Delete Files on Mac Immediately

You can also avoid the Trash altogether using the Command key on your keyboard and the File menu.

  1. Click the file or files you would like to delete.

  2. Hold down the Option key on your keyboard and click File at the top of the page.

  3. Hold down the Option key on your keyboard, then click File > Delete Immediately.

    Delete Immediately

    Alternatively, you can press Option+Cmd+Delete to delete files without having to access the File menu.

  4. Click Remove Immediately and confirm you truly want to delete the files to completely remove them from your computer.

    When you click Remove Immediately, the files are completely deleted from your system, and are not recoverable.

Skip the Delete Confirmation

If you don't want to deal with the delete confirmation message each time you permanently delete files from you Mac, you can press Cmd+Option+Shift+Delete.

This keyboard shortcut removes the confirmation message, so be certain you really want to delete the selected files before using the shortcut.

You can also turn off the delete confirmation. Open Finder, then click Preferences > Advanced and deselect Show warning before emptying the Trash. Doing so removes the option to back out of deleting files before they're gone forever.

Was this page helpful?