What is Secure Empty Trash in Mac OSX?

I have to admit, I’ve been a Mac user since college. I just learned something I never really knew about more than a decade later: what Secure Empty Trash means in Mac OSX. Every time I drag and drop my junk into trash, like most people I go up to the top corner of the screen, click on Finder ›› Empty Trash. After I hear the wonderful ‘crumple’ sound, I know that my digital life has been cleaned up. Not so fast…has it though?

What is Secure Empty Trash and should I click it?

If you use the method I explained above, your trash is emptied and your files are gone. But not for good. That information can be recovered (by those who know how to save the day in the event you’ve deleted something valuable). But with Secure Empty Trash, your chances of recovering the data are slim to none. The process writes patterns of data over the file and deletes it immediately as opposed to files that are deleted the standard way die a slow, painful death. As more files are deleted, the standard deleted files get bumped off the system. Secure Empty Trash move those files to the front of the line.

How do I Secure Empty Trash?

There are a few ways to Secure Empty Trash. The quickest for me is to just go to FINDER ›› SECURE EMPTY TRASH. You’ll get the nice warning to ask you if you really want to do this. You should if you want to get rid of your files for good and keep your system cleaned up.


what is secure empty trash in mac osx


The first time I used it, it took about 20 minutes because there was so much crap in the trash can that needed to be permanently deleted. If you want to set this option as default for you every time you delete your trash, you can in OSX by simply clicking on FINDER ›› PREFERENCES and clicking EMPTY TRASH SECURELY. Now every time you empty trash, it’ll literally empty trash for good. This is a great option for dealing with a lot of secure or sensitive documents you don’t want prying eyes to see.


what is secure empty trash in mac osx


That’s it! Now you know what Secure Empty Trash is all about on Mac OSX and how it can help you obliterate sensitive items you want deleted from your computer never to be recovered again. Let us know if you use Secure Empty Trash by saying so in the comments below.

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Josh Benson

Josh Benson

Josh is the Editor of and supreme geek to boot. He spends much of his time learning new software, coding languages, gadgets and more. He loves helping people figure out tech problems - big or small. Josh is a former television news anchor and tech reporter. He spends his days developing websites and producing videos.

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