Deleting files and folders is one of those procedures that users of any operating system occasionally have to face. And while it is easier to figure out how to remove a file or folder on your Mac then how to get rid of a program, it still may present some difficulties. Nevertheless, don’t worry – in this article, we are going to equip you with all the necessary information on how to get rid of gigabytes of junk files just in two clicks.

When using Mac, we are constantly creating some files, copying them and sorting into lots of various folders. Then, there comes the point when those files and folders stop being necessary or free storage simply ends up. What are we doing next? Right – we select the necessary file, folder or program and drag it into the Trash folder. But have you ever wondered if they are completely deleted from the system in such a way? In fact, after deleting files or programs, the system still has some “residual” files that eventually take up more and more space on the hard disk or SSD-drive. So, here is how to clean up junk files properly and irretrievably.

old files on mac

How to delete files and folders on Mac?

  • The easiest way, as was mentioned above, is simply to drag an unnecessary file, previously selected group of files or folder into Trash.
  • The second method is to select the file and use the Command + Delete keyboard combination.
  • Another way to delete selected files is to use the main menu at the top of the screen, where you need to select Move to Trash in the File section.
  • The same option is also available in the context menu after you right-click.

All these four methods do not erase the file completely; they only move it to the Trash folder. Thus, when changed your mind, you still have a chance to recover it. However, if you decide to delete the file permanently, then you need to empty the Trash. Read below to learn how.

  • Also, if you are for 146% sure that the files you are going to delete will no longer be needed, it is possible to get rid of them bypassing the Trash Folder. For that, instead of the usual Command + Delete combination, use Option + Command + Delete. Once the warning message appears, select Delete and files will be erased without the possibility of recovery.

How to empty the Trash folder?

  • If you wish to delete all the items, just click on the Trash folder, then choose Empty in the top-right corner in the Finder window. Otherwise, you may also go to Finder and select the Empty Trash option. Once the window with the warning message appears, choose Empty Trash.
  • If you wish to delete a particular item, right-click the file you wish to delete and select Delete Immediately. Once the warning message appears, choose Delete Immediately.
  • When it comes to deleting old items, you need to additionally confirm that you wish to move it to the Trash folder, or unblock it beforehand. In order to unlock a file, select it, go to File and then Get Info (you may also press the combination Command-I). After that, just empty the checkbox with Locked. Also, if you are not signed in to the system as an administrator, click on the icon with the lock and, when prompted, type in administrator credentials.
  • In order to get rid of the warning that appears when cleaning the Trash folder:
  • Once: hold down Option after you click on Clear or select the Empty Trash option.
  • Always: disable the warning in your Advanced panel of the Finder settings. For that, go to Finder, proceed to Preferences, choose Advanced and uncheck Show warning before emptying the Trash
  • You may also set so that items should be automatically deleted from Trash after 30 days. To do so, go to Finder, proceed to Preferences, then Advances and choose Remove items from the Trash after 30 days.

Here you go! Unnecessary items are deleted permanently from your device.

How to recover deleted files?

As for restoring files prior to emptying the Trash folder, there is nothing complicated. Simply open the Trash (double-click on the corresponding icon in the Dock) and drag the desired file outside, for example, on the desktop. However, if you wish to return the file to its original place, then you need to click on it with the right mouse button and select Put Back in the opened context menu. The same option can be found in the main Finder menu by selecting File and then Put Back.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to retrieve deleted files or folders after you empty Trash. Therefore, if you happened to disable Time Machine on your Mac or haven’t backed up the device to iCloud or iTunes recently, we recommend you to create the backup copy of your files if you suddenly shift the ground and want them again.