How to Permanently Delete Files on Mac

To permanently delete files and folders on your Mac, you need to put them in the Trash (or Bin) and empty it. To delete large files, you can use Storage Settings in System Settings. Alternatively, you can use a third-party Mac shredder app.

How to Permanently Delete Files on Mac

Hi, I’m Devansh. Since I first became a Mac user, I’ve made it a habit to delete unwanted files permanently every week on my iMac and MacBook.

In this article, I’ll show you the best ways to empty the Trash and delete files permanently. I’ll also introduce you to the best third-party file eraser tools for Mac.

If you want to ensure that you delete files permanently on your Mac without any possibility of recovery, keep reading!

Method 1: The Native Method to Delete Files Permanently on Mac

When you delete a file on Mac, it sits in the Trash (known as ‘Bin’ outside the US) in the dock until you empty it manually. Here are the steps to do so.

Step 1: Click the Trash in the dock.

Step 2: Click Empty in the upper-right corner.

Step 3: Click Empty Trash in the warning message box. To skip this message, press the Option key when you click Empty.

Alternatively, right-click the Trash in the dock and click Empty Trash.

If you want to avoid doing this step manually in the future, you can set it up to delete files automatically every 30 days. Open Finder, click Finder in the menu bar, Settings, and go to the Advanced tab. Enable Remove items from the Trash after 30 days.

Method 2: Use Storage Settings to Bypass Trash

There’s another way to delete large files and apps on your Mac permanently. 

Open System Settings (or System Preferences), go to General > About > Storage > Storage Settings. Click the ‘i’ icon next to Applications or Documents.

Here, you can browse through files and permanently delete them. Remember, the files you delete using this method will bypass the Trash, so do it with caution.

Method 3: Use Third-Party File Eraser Tools

If you found the above steps too time-consuming, opt for a third-party file eraser tool instead. The most user-friendly and intuitive ones are CleanMyMac X, BuhoCleaner, and BitRaser.

in CleanMyMac X, you can shred files or folders quickly without leaving a trace.
In BuhoCleaner, you can find a tool named ‘Shredder’ in the Toolkit. With this, you can permanently delete files on your Mac.

These tools also provide junk removal, malware protection, and optimization features. BuhoCleaner and CleanMyMac have a free trial available so you can try them without any worries.


Here are some common questions about permanently deleting files on Mac.

How To Delete a File That Won’t Delete?

First, ensure that you’re not using that file. If it’s open in a program, quit the program. If it still doesn’t work, put your Mac in Safe Mode and retry. Since Safe Mode turns off startup items, you can delete that file without interference.

Can You Bypass Trash When Deleting a File?

Yes, there’s a keyboard shortcut for that. Select the file you want to delete and press Option + Command + Delete. In the warning box that appears, click Delete to confirm it. If you delete files this way, you won’t need to perform the extra step of emptying the Trash!

How to Delete Locked Files on Your Mac?

If a file is locked, click Continue to move it to the Trash.

To unlock the file before you move it to the Trash, right-click it, click Get Info, and deselect Locked. You need to be logged in as an administrator to do this.

How to Permanently Delete Files from External Drive?

You can delete the files as you usually would on your Mac, by dragging them to the Trash in the dock or right-clicking and selecting Move to Trash. Be sure to empty the Trash before you eject the drive. To wipe the drive, open Disk Utility, select the drive under External, and click Erase in the top-right corner.


You can delete files permanently on your Mac by dragging them to the Trash and emptying it. You can also find and delete large files using Storage Settings in System Settings. If you want to skip all these steps, use a file eraser tool like BohoCleaner.

Whether to delete sensitive files or make your Mac run faster, knowing how to delete files permanently can often be handy. Feel free to use any of the above methods—Trash, Storage Settings, or a third-party app—based on your goals and use case.

Do you have further questions about permanently deleting files on Mac? Let me know in the comments!

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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?

    • Avatar photo
      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.