How to Permanently Delete Files on Mac

How to Permanently Delete Files on Mac

You probably have heard about the famous iCloud leaks of celebrity photos, right? And you know the significance of digital data.

Maybe you want to resell or donate your Mac, but are paranoid about the security of your sensitive data? Or you are concerned about your Mac being stolen and the data could be hijacked?

It’s natural for us to think that way.

The point is: you probably want to know how to permanently delete files on Mac. Because the last thing you’d like to see is that someone “hacks” your Mac and retrieves the private/sensitive data.

Yes, files deleted from a storage media such as Mac hard drives can be retrieved, thanks to Mac data recovery software — which is supposed to do good things and recover files deleted accidentally, rather than to serve as an “evil” means to restore data from someone else’s computer.

The question is: is it still the case? I mean, most new Apple Macs are now with flash storage (solid-state drives) or Fusion Drives for some iMac models, instead of a traditional spinning hard disk drives (HDDs).

Do I still have to secure delete my files on Mac?

That’s what we’ll cover in this article, showing you how to securely delete files on macOS depending on whether your computer is with a traditional HDD or a speedy SSD.

Why do Macs with Flash Storage (SSD) Matter?

Simply put, fewer efforts are needed to completely remove files if your Mac is with an SSD.

This is mainly because the way how a solid-state drive (SSD) works is different from that a hard disk drive (HDD) does, especially when your Macintosh internal drive uses the TRIM command.

To avoid Mac slowdowns that traditional spinning hard drives often cause, Trim allows macOS to immediately wipe blocks of data that are no longer considered in use — once you delete the files either by emptying Trash or using similar tricks to get rid of the files such as Command + Del or Command + Opt + Backspace.

This TRIM technique speeds up the data access process and has a side-benefit of making it impossible for anyone to recover the files erased from an SSD-based Mac.

Macs with HDDs, on the other hand, are entirely different.

Even if you’ve emptied the Trash bin or used other similar methods to get rid of files, it’s still quite possible to recover the files using data recovery software as long as the items are not fully overwritten.

You can also learn more from this Mac trash recovery article we wrote earlier.

How to Check If Your Mac is with SSD or HDD?

Depending on the type of Mac computers you are using, MacBook Pro/Air, iMac, or Mac Pro/Mini, it may be equipped with a different kind of storage media.

For example, most new MacBooks are now shipped with an SSD, while certain iMac models still have the options for you to choose between Fusion Drive and Flash Storage.

To find that out, simply click on the Apple logo on the top left of the Mac screen, then go to About This Mac > Storage, right under the disk icon and you’ll see a line like this (in red).

It tells clearly whether your Mac with a Solid State SATA Drive or a spinning hard drive.

If your Mac is with an SSD and you want to check whether it’s TRIM enabled, see this article for how.

How to Permanently Delete files on SSD-Based Mac?

It’s quite simple. Just drag the files to Trash or right-click and select Move to Trash, then open the Trash app and select Delete Permanently or Empty Trash. That’s it!

However, if you are still paranoid and want to make sure the deleted files are 100% unrecoverable, you can use CleanMyMac.

A free trial is offered, $39.99/year to buy.

Here’s how to completely erase unwanted files or folders with the app:

  1. Download CleanMyMac and install the app on your Mac.
  2. Launch it, click on the “Shredder” feature located on the bottom left of the app.
  3. Select the files or folders you’d like to wipe, and proceed.

How to Permanently Delete Files on HDD-Based Mac?

You’ll have to use a third-party Mac shredder app.

CleanMyMac is our top recommendation.

If you prefer a dedicated file shredder app, you can also try this one called BitRaser for File – a professional data eraser utility that you can use to remove files off your Mac and make them beyond recovery.

Final Words

Permanently removing files from a Mac seems very easy, though extra efforts may be needed depending on the type of storage media your Mac is using — HDD or SSD.

I hope this article has cleared any confusion you might have in mind.

One more thing: as a reminder, before you proceed make sure you know what you are doing and only delete those files you absolutely want to vanish, and don’t forget to back up those important data.

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  • Gaffoor swami patel

    Bitraser might has done job for you in past, but it has failed in my case. i bought software , turned of SIP utility from mac as it wasn’t consider folder or file selection presence.
    raised called with them and i am yet to receive a solution. so for me it has spoiled my two precious day.

    Go for other software if possible.

  • Erik

    Applying a shredder to an SSD will eventually kill your SSD. What is your area of expertise? It can’t be ICT if you’re advising people to shred files on an SSD…

  • Gabriel Bey

    Does a shredder free up s[ace on your SSD Drive?

  • Carl0s

    Is there any command-line tool for this task?

  • Wholesome Joe

    Thanks for the great layout Jessica!

  • oguz

    I can still recover files from my ssd? then it not deleting it when i just throw the files in the basket?

    • AnySoftwareTools Team

      Chances to recover files deleted from an SSD is slim, if not at all.

      • claw

        Highly incorrect. There are recovery programs that can recover from SSD very easily. Just checked not only my main drives, but SD cards and flashdrives (all solid state) and thousands of recoverable files.