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How to Empty Trash on Mac: 9 Best Ways

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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Are you tired of that overflowing trash can on your Mac, cluttering your precious storage space? It’s time to take matters into your own hands and free up valuable disk space on your Mac.

Knowing how to empty the trash on your Mac is an essential skill that can save you from a digital clutter nightmare. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll unveil the 9 best ways to empty trash on Mac and reclaim your storage.

Before We Begin

Regularly emptying the Trash on your Mac ensures your sensitive data is securely and permanently deleted. Using MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature, you can remove unnecessary files and folders from your system and keep it running smoothly.

9 Best Ways to Empty Trash on Mac

When you delete files from your Mac, they are moved to the Trash folder, where they take up space on your hard drive until you empty the Trash. Follow the methods mentioned below to empty trash on Mac.

1. Delete Selected Files From the Bin

Using Bin to empty the trash on your Mac is a straightforward and reliable method. To help you through the process of emptying the trash via Bin, here are the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Click the Bin icon in the Dock to open it.
click trash bin in dock
  1. Select all the items you want to delete from the Trash. You can do this by holding down the Command ⌘ key on your keyboard, clicking on each item, or selecting them all with a click-and-drag motion.
select the files you want to delete
  1. Right-click the selected files and select Delete Immediately.
right click the files and select delete immediately
  1. You’ll get a prompt confirming if you want to delete the selected files. Click Delete and it will remove the selected files from your Mac.
click delete on the prompt

2. Delete the Entire Bin

If you want to delete all files in the Bin in one go, you can follow these steps:

  1. Open the Bin from the Dock.
click trash bin in dock
  1. When you open the Bin, you’ll see a small Empty button in the top-right corner. Click it.
click the empty button in bin
  1. Click Empty Bin on the prompt and it will delete everything from your Trash.
click empty bin on the prompt

3. Using a Keyboard Shortcut

Mac keyboard shortcuts are a great way to do different things while saving time. You can also use a Mac keyboard shortcut to empty trash. Here are the steps:

  1. Select the items you want to delete from your trash.
select the files you want to delete
  1. Press Command + Shift + Delete on your keyboard.
macbook pro command shift delete
  1. A pop-up window will appear, asking you to confirm that you want to delete the items in your trash. Click Empty Bin.
click empty bin on the prompt

4. Using MacKeeper

MacKeeper is a comprehensive utility software that can optimize your Mac’s performance, including emptying the Trash. Here are the steps to empty Trash on Mac Using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Launch the app and open Safe Cleanup from MacKeeper’s Cleaning section.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section 4
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan 3
  1. Select the files you want to remove or click Check All. Here, make sure you select the Trash option.
click trash in the left sidebar
  1. Click Clean Junk Files.
tap clean junk files 4
  1. This will remove the selected junk files from your Mac, including the Trash items. You can click Rescan to repeat the process.
click rescan to scan the system again 1

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides cleaning up junk files from your Mac, MacKeeper can clear cache files, delete duplicate files, and remove login items from your Mac. If you’re interested in learning about its other features, read my detailed MacKeeper review.

5. Using Terminal

The Terminal is a powerful tool that you can use to empty Trash on Mac. Here are the steps to empty the Trash on your Mac using Terminal:

  1. Open the Terminal app via Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
launch terminal from utilities 1
  1. Type the following command and  press Enter:
sudo rm -rf ~/.Trash/*
type a command to empty the trash in terminal
  1. Type your password when prompted and press Enter.
  2. It will delete all items from your Bin.

6. Force Empty Trash

If you’re unable to empty the trash on your Mac using the regular method, you can force empty the trash using the following steps:

You will not get a confirmation pop-up in this method, so only try it if you’re 100% sure about deleting the Trash completely.

  1. Right-click the Bin icon in the Dock.
right click the bin icon in the dock
  1. Hold down the Option key on your keyboard.
macbook pro option key
  1. While holding the Option key, click Empty Bin in the context menu and it will empty the Bin instantly.
right click the bin and select empty bin

7. Secure Empty Trash

Secure Empty Trash is a feature that overwrites the deleted files with random data multiple times before permanently removing them from your hard drive. This process ensures that the deleted files cannot be recovered.

Here’s how to use Secure Empty Trash: 

  1. Right-click the Bin icon in the Dock.
right click the bin icon in the dock
  1. Hold down the Command key on your keyboard.
macbook pro command key
  1. While holding the Command key, click Empty Bin in the context menu.
right click the bin and select empty bin
  1. A pop-up window will appear, asking you to confirm that you want to delete the items in your trash permanently. Click Empty Bin.
click empty bin on the prompt
  1. This method will overwrite the deleted files with random data, making them harder to recover.

8. Using Disk Utility

Disk Utility can help empty Trash on Mac by allowing you to erase the free space on your hard drive. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Disk Utility on your Mac via Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
from the utilities window select disk utility and click continue
  1. Select your startup disk from the list on the left-hand side.
select the disk image you want to delete from the sidebar
  1. Click the First Aid button in the toolbar.
click on the first aid button located in the toolbar
  1. Click Run to start the verification process.
click on run to begin the first aid process
  1. Once the process is complete, click Verify Disk Permissions.
  2. Click Repair Disk Permissions to fix any issues.
  3. Try emptying the Bin again.

9. Using Time Machine

Always be careful when deleting files/folders from Time Machine backups, as this action is permanent and cannot be undone. Ensure you have a backup of the files/folders you want to keep before proceeding.

To empty the Trash on a Mac using Time Machine, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your external hard drive with Time Machine backups to your Mac.
  2. Open the Time Machine app on your Mac.
click on time machine
  1. Navigate to the date and time you want to delete the Trash files permanently.
  2. Select the files or folders you want to delete from the Trash and select them.
  3. Click the gear icon in the Time Machine window and select Delete All Backups of [file/folder name]. It permanently deletes selected files/folders from all Time Machine backups.
  4. Confirm that you want to delete the files/folders by clicking Delete.
  5. Wait for the deletion process to complete, which may take some time, depending on the amount of data being deleted.
  6. Once the process is complete, you can safely empty the Trash on your Mac without worrying about those files/folders reappearing in future Time Machine backups.

Get Rid of Trash on Your Mac

Emptying the Trash on your Mac is an essential step in maintaining your system’s performance and storage capacity. Here are some more tips for the future:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I recover items deleted from the Trash on Mac?

    Yes, you can recover items deleted from the Trash on your Mac, depending on certain conditions. When you empty the Trash, the files are usually considered permanently deleted. However, if you act quickly, there are still options available to restore those files.

  2.  Why won’t my Trash empty on Mac?

    Your trash won’t empty on Mac if the files are in use by another app, the trash is corrupted, the files are locked, or the trash contains large files that take a long time to delete.

  3. How can I prevent my Trash from filling up on my Mac?

    To prevent your trash from filling up on your Mac, regularly delete files you no longer need. Always Back up your data and use MacKeeper to clean up your Mac of unnecessary files, apps, and software.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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