How to Empty Trash on Mac

secure empty trash bins

Getting to delete trash files on a Mac is quite an easy task to do except if you run into some sort of problem. The problems could range from emptying trash while the file is still in use or locked. If these are some problems when immediately deleting a file and emptying the Trash, we provide you the ways to empty the Trash that you should try. Most times, it can free up more space on Mac by deleting files or emptying trash, but as aforementioned, there might be issues that might prevent you from deleting files from the trash.

How to Move Files to Trash on Mac (Easy)

Here are some ways to move files you don’t need to trash from Mac.

  1. Drag and drop the file unwanted on the Dock’s Trash icon.
  2. Highlight the file(s) that you want to delete and right-click on it and then select the option of “Move to Trash.
  3. Navigate to the file location, click on it, and then hit the “Command + Delete” button to move it directly to the Trash folder.

Just as it is in your Windows Recycle bin, these methods won’t permanently delete anything and allow the files to remain in your Trash folder until it is finally deleted. This, however, is programmed in a way that you don’t get to accidentally delete important files you might be needing later. So then, your deleted files will remain in your Trash Folder till you go and complete the deleting all by yourself. However, if it turns out that you want to free up more space on your Mac, then you’d need to go and delete every one of the files from your Trash.

How to Empty Trash on Mac (Manually)

It isn’t difficult to delete files from your Trash folder.

  1. Navigate to the Trash icon in the Dock and click to empty the trash.
  2. Alternatively, you can empty the trash by simultaneously pressing three keys: Command + Shift + Delete.

You’d get a warning that reads: “Are you sure you want to delete the items in your Trash?” The question is targeted so you can ascertain you know what you’re doing as the action cannot be undone. If you are sure you want to delete them, click Empty Trash to free up the storage of the hard disk.

empty trash

In case you’re not comfortable with the “Are you sure you want to permanently erase the items in the Trash” option, you can utilize some special command buttons by clicking the following commands: Command + Option/Alt + Shift + Delete. You’d have succeeded in deleting every file in Trash without a confirmation dialog.

How to Empty Trash on Mac in One-click (Secure & Fast)

As there are so many junk files or trash bins that occupy your Mac’s disk space, you can get MacDeed Mac Cleaner to free scan all cache, junk, or log files on your Mac and clear them in a click. With the help of Mac Cleaner, you don’t need to worry you will delete files by mistake.

Try It Free

Step 1. Download and Install Mac Cleaner.

MacDeed Mac Cleaner

Step 2. Launch Mac Cleaner, select the Trash Bins icon and hit Scan to scan the Trash on Macintosh HD. The scanning process takes several seconds.

mac trash cleaner

Step 3. After scanning, you can click Review Details and select what you want to remove from the Trash.

clean trash on mac

Note: Mac Cleaner is well compatible with macOS 10.10 and higher, including ‎macOS Ventura, macOS Monterey, macOS Big Sur, macOS Catalina, macOS Mojave, ‎macOS High Sierra, etc. You can free-try it on your Mac, MacBook Pro/Air, iMac, or Mac mini.

Try It Free

How to Secure Empty Trash on Mac with Terminal

There is another way to secure empty trash on Mac, which is emptying Trash with Terminal. This method is not difficult but a little complicated for some users. So if you are sure you really want to try this method, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Open Terminal in Finder > Applications > Utilities.
  2. Type command: srm -v, then drag the file unwanted to the Terminal window.
  3. Hit return. The file would be removed.

Tips 1: How to Delete An Item When It Is still Actively in Using

On the off chance that you try emptying your trash folder and get an error message that the file in question is “in use” by another application, then you can try out some other options.

You can go along to delete another thing except for that item. Simply click on the Skip or Continue to skip through the undeletable item(s). Nevertheless, you might have some of the offending items in your Trash folder.

Below are some solutions on how to delete an “in use” file from the Trash folder:

  1. Quit the app that you think it might be using the file (or quit all open apps if you aren’t sure). You should now be able to empty the trash.
  2. If that doesn’t work the app may still be using the file for a background process. In that case, try restarting your Mac and then attempting to empty the trash.
  3. If that doesn’t work, check to see if there is a startup item that is using the file, or just start up the Mac in Safe Mode – which will stop any Startup items from running. Now you should be able to empty your trash and delete the file.

If you want to try and identify which application is using the troublesome file, you could try the following Terminal Command:

  • Click on the Trash so that a Finder window opens up.
  • Now open Terminal and type: top into the Terminal window.
  • Hit return. You’ll see a list of currently running processes. At the top of the list is an overview of the processes that are running and the resources they’re consuming.

If it’s an application, quit it. If it’s a background process that’s using the file, open Activity Monitor and terminate the process.

Tips 2: How to Move Locked Files to Trash

If the file has been locked, you can not delete it. Locked files display a lock badge in the lower-left corner of their icons. So if you want to delete the lock file, you should unlock the file first.

  1. To unlock the file, right-click or control-click on the file in the Finder. Select Get Info, or click on the file and press Command-I.
  2. Open the General section (below Add Tags).
  3. Uncheck the Locked checkbox.

Tips 3: How to Delete Files if You Have Insufficient Privileges

When you delete a file, you may not have sufficient privileges to do it. In some cases this is a good thing – if it’s a System-related file you are attempting to delete then you probably shouldn’t.

However, if you are sure it is safe to delete the file, you can add your Name in the Sharing & Permissions section and give yourself permission to Read & Write. After that, you can delete the file finally.


As we all know, deleting a file or emptying the trash is not a hard job. But when the trash is full of junk files and unwanted files, it will be a hard job to free up more space on Mac. In this case, Mac Cleaner is the best utility tool to clear the cache on your Mac, and speed up your Mac. Even when you come across most issues of Mac, MacDeed Mac Cleaner can help you fix them, such as rebuilding the Spotlight index on Mac, removing purgeable space on Mac, etc.

Try It Free

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.5 / 5. Vote count: 4

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.