How to Delete Files on Mac

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

When attempting to delete files from your macOS device, you first need to understand that moving files to the trash doesn't remove the files completely from your hard drive. Similar to Microsoft's Windows, you can restore files from your Recycle Bin. However, there are a few simple steps that would allow you to completely delete files on a Mac permanently.

How to Delete Files on Your Mac

  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
  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.

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