How To Securely Delete Files in Mac OS X

secureempty.jpgSo you’ve finally recovered from St. Patty’s Day and decided to check out the photos taken during your night of shenanigans. Congratulations! You plug your camera into your Mac, upload the pictures and, lo and behold, you find dozens of potentially blackmail-worthy photos involving pints of beer, a little person dressed as a leprechaun, and a spool of duct tape. The photos need to be removed from existence pronto, and fortunately your Mac can help keep your shame away from curious eyes. Little known fact: When you send a file to Trash and then empty it, the file isn’t really gone; it still lives tucked away on your hard drive and can be recovered with the use of data-recovery software that’s remarkably simple to obtain. If you want to make sure that what’s trashed stays trashed, use this little tip.

  1. Click on the Finder or Trash icons located on the Dock A window opens.
  2. Click Finder->Secure Empty Trash. Alternately, you can just open Trash and click the “Empty Securely” button

Files deleted in this fashion are overwritten with gibber-jabber that will prevent them from being recovered. The secure empty process takes far longer to delete files than a non-secure delete. What would normally take a second or two may take minutes (or hours) depending on the size of the files. See how little the progress bar has moved in the photo below? That’s after 3 minutes of securely deleting. But you can’t put a time stamp on dignity, can you?


Do you have any tips or tricks that you’d like to share with the rest of the class?

Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

  1. E. v. Aurich Says:

    If i want to delete the files i deleted without the secure delete function, where can i find them?

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options