Home > How to Tips

How to Completely/Permanently Delete Files on Mac(7 Methods)

Updated on Friday, June 14, 2024

iBoysoft author Amanda Wong

Written by

Amanda Wong
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

English Français Deutsch やまと Español Português

Summary: This post provides 7 ways to permanently delete files on Mac, you can even skip the Mac Trash to permanently delete files on Mac internal/external drives. Besides, you can quickly and easily remove unwanted files from your Mac via the right-click menu enhanced by iBoysoft MagicMenu.

how to permanently delete files on mac

If you are using to delete files on Mac with the Move to Trash option, the deleted files are still kept in the Trash folder, occupying the disk space. Hence, to free up space on Macintosh HD or an external HDD, SSD, or USB flash drive, you need to permanently delete files on Mac.

7 methods to permanently delete files on MacSpecific steps
Permanently delete files by Empty TrashClick the Trash icon and select Empty Trash, and click Empty Trash again.
Permanently delete files using iBoysoft MagicMenuRight-click the unwanted files and choose Delete Directly.
Permanently delete files via iBoysoft DiskGeekerSelect the target volume, click Clean Junk or Space Analyze, and select/drag unwanted files to delete.
Permanently delete files with shortcutsSelect the files you want to delete and press Option + Command + Delete.
Permanently delete files using Delete ImmediatelySelect the files you want to completely remove and click File on the menu bar, press and hold Option, and choose Delete Immediately.
Permanently delete files via TerminalLaunch Terminal, type rm or rm -rf and a space, drag unwanted items to Terminal, and press Enter.
Permanently delete files from Disk UtilityOpen Disk Utility, select the drive you want to wipe, click Erase, and follow the on-screen guide to complete the process. 

Share this post to help others permanently delete files on Mac!


How to permanently delete files on Mac by Empty Trash

When you right-click the unwanted file and choose Move to Trash, drag-drop the item to Trash, or select the files you want to remove and press Command + Delete, you just move the chosen files to the Mac Trash, a folder stores the unwanted files on Mac. You can put deleted files back from the Trash if you accidentally delete certain files.

If you haven't enabled the "Remove items from the Trash after 30 days" option in Finder's settings, the deleted files will lie in the Trash can forever, and eat up disk space. In this case, you just change the location of unwanted files on Mac. Therefore, you need to manually empty Trash to permanently delete them. 

  • Right-click the Trash can and choose Empty Trash, then click Empty Trash again.
  • Or, open the Trash, select the items you want to permanently delete, click Empty at the top-right corner, and tap Empty Trash to confirm.

empty trash

How to permanently delete files on Mac using iBoysoft MagicMenu

Perhaps, you don't want to move the unnecessary files to the Mac Trash, or the Delete key is not working on your Mac, there are some ways you can apply to skip the Mac Trash and permanently delete files.

iBoysoft MagicMenu, the right-click enhancer for Mac enables you to delete files directly via the Finder's context menu. It is designed to customize and enhance the right-click menu on Mac, allowing you to add new and improved functionalities directly to the right-click control panel.

Steps to permanently delete files on Mac using iBoysoft MagicMenu:

  1. Download and install iBoysoft MagicMenu on Mac.
  2. Right-click the unwanted files and choose Delete Directly.

delete directly

In addition, this versatile right-click tool enables you to do more with the context menu, such as creating new files, moving/copying files, quickly accessing an item, uninstalling applications, compressing files, finding duplicates, converting image formats, etc. Download iBoysoft MagicMenu to have a try!

How to permanently delete files on Mac via iBoysoft DiskGeeker

Third-party Mac cleaner could also help to completely remove files from Mac. It can scan the target volume, search for junk files on it, and then you can simply delete unwanted files within one click. iBoysoft DiskGeeker is a good choice to permanently clean junk files on Mac. With its Space Analyze feature, you can also make a selective removal of unwanted files.

Permanently clean system junk with iBoysoft DiskGeeker:

  1. Download and install
  2. Select a volume from the startup disk, as for Mac's default startup disk, it is usually labeled as macOS - Data, macOS, or Macintosh HD, or Macintosh HD - Data.
  3. Click Clean Junk from the right sidebar.
  4. Select a folder from the left panel and choose the files/folders you want to delete.
  5. Click Clean and then click OK.

clean junk

Permanently delete non-startup disk files with iBoysoft DiskGeerker:

  1. Launch iBoysoft DiskGeeker on your Mac.
  2. Select a partition from the left sidebar.
  3. Click the Space Analyze icon from the right toolbar.
  4. Wait for the scanning process to complete.
  5. Open folders to browse the files in them.
  6. Drag-drop to collect the files and folders you want to remove and click Delete.

collect unwanted files

iBoysoft DiskGeeker is an all-in-one disk management tool for Mac, it also meets your needs to read and write BitLocker and NTFS drives on Mac, encrypt a drive on Mac with FileVault or BitLocker, clone drive, map network drives, and so forth.

If these apps help to permanently delete files on Mac, you can recommend them to others!


How to permanently delete files on Mac with shortcuts

Alternatively, you can use keyboard shortcuts to permanently delete files on Mac bypassing the Trash. You just need to tap a few keys on the keyboard to completely remove the files. Here's how:

  1. Select the item you want to delete on the desktop or within a folder in Finder.
  2. Simultaneously press Option + Command + Delete.
  3. Click Delete on the pop-up window to confirm the option. 

permanently delete shortcuts

How to permanently delete files on Mac using Delete Immediately

Similar to the keyboard shortcuts Option + Command + Delete, there is an option named Delete Immediately in Finder's File menu, but it isn't as obvious as it should be. Follow the steps below to remove files on Mac via Delete Immediately:

  1. Select the file you want to remove from Mac.
  2. Click File from the top menu bar.
  3. Hold down the Option key, the Move to Trash option will change to Delete Immediately, and click Delete Immediately. 
  4. Click Delete in the pop-up box to confirm.

How to permanently delete files on Mac via Terminal

In addition to the graphic user interface, many tasks on Mac can also be performed with the command-line interface, the built-in Terminal app on macOS. So, you can permanently delete files on Mac by running Terminal commands. Let's dive into the details.

  1. Open Terminal from Finder > Applications > Utilities.
  2. To delete a file, type the command below with a space, then drag the file you want to remove into Terminal and press Return.rm 
  3. To remove a folder, type the command below and a space, drag the folder you want to shred into Terminal, and press Return. rm -rf 

permanently delete files with terminal

How to permanently delete files on Mac from Disk Utility

In case you want to permanently delete all files on the Mac internal drive or connected external drives, you can just reformat the drive in Disk Utility, this is the easiest way. If you want to wipe a startup disk, you need to boot the Mac into macOS Recovery Mode to access Disk Utility there.

  1. Connect the external drive to your Mac if you want to erase it. 
  2. Launch Disk Utility from Finder > Applications > Utilities, or access it in macOS Recovery Mode from the macOS Utilities screen.
  3. Select the target drive on the left list.
  4. Click the Erase button on the toolbar.
  5. Enter a name, choose a file system, select a partition map, and click Erase.
  6. When the process is done, all data are permanently deleted.

reformat drive

Share these 7 methods to permanently delete files on Mac!


Bonus tip: recover permanently deleted files on Mac

Sometimes, you may find you permanently deleted files on Mac by mistake and want to recover them back. If you have backed up the files before the deletion with Time Machine or in other ways, you can easily restore the permanently deleted files with your backups. 

What if there is no backup? It is still possible to recover permanently deleted files on Mac as long as the data hasn't been overwritten. Therefore, you should stop writing data to the drive once you find permanently deleting files by mistake. You can try third-party data recovery software such as iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac or send it to a local repair.