Security & Privacy

Mac Security Tip: Securely Empty Trash

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When you place files in the Trash on your Mac, then empty the Trash, you may think that those files have been wiped from your hard disk; this is not exactly true. Emptying the Trash simply removes the catalog information (data on your hard disk telling your Mac where on the disk files are located), but not the files themselves. This is to save time; if files had to be fully deleted, the process would be much longer, especially for very large files.

Because of this, Mac OS X has a Secure Empty Trash feature, which removes not only the catalog information, but the files as well. To use this, choose Finder > Secure Empty Trash. A dialog displays telling you that this process will mean that you will not be able to recover the files.

If you wish to securely empty the Trash all the time, you can set a preference in the Finder to turn on this option. Choose Finder > Preferences, then click on the Advanced icon. Check Empty Trash Securely.

Again, this means that emptying the Trash will take longer, but your files will be deleted completely. Well, almost. Stay tuned for another Mac security tip about this very question…