How to Empty Trash on Mac

Updated on March 27, 2023
Learn how to empty trash on Mac with ease! Our step-by-step guide helps you clear out unwanted files and free up valuable disk space. Get started now.

It’s only natural that we gather a couple of different files and stuff on our MacBook. But, once we’ve exhausted the usefulness of these resources, the next logical recourse is usually to delete them. Now, space is a premium commodity on virtually every computer device. However, this is more so the case with Mac devices because, unlike their Windows-based counterparts, their storage spaces aren’t as readily expandable. Now, it isn’t enough to just know how to delete these files. Users also need to know how to empty Trash on Mac as well.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering; why exactly isn’t it enough to just delete these files.

Why is learning how to empty the Trash folder on my MacBook so important?

We’ll be going into all of that in detail subsequently. So, be sure to stick with us to the end!

Why You Need to Know How to Empty Trash on Mac

There’s a very crucial reason why you need to know how to empty trash on Mac. All things being equal, you should know that your Mac device has been configured to work in certain and precise ways.

When it comes to deleting files on these devices, every item you delete doesn’t leave your system automatically. Because there’s always that possibility, no matter how slim, that the delete process you initiated was a mistake and you might still need those files, Apple helped users put a failsafe in place.

That failsafe is the Trash folder.

So, when you delete a file, instead of leaving the annals of your device completely, it is usually automatically moved to the Trash folder. As such, should you discover that you still need that file, you can always just go and recover it from that folder.

No doubt, this is a handy feature to have. But if you don’t empty this folder from time to time, its contents could end up collecting more storage space than you have to spare.

And this is where learning how to properly empty the Trash folder on your Mac device becomes vital.

How to Empty Trash Folder on MacBook – Everything You Need to Know

You’ll be happy to know that there are various ways that you can conveniently delete the contents of your Trash folder on Mac. Usually, the best method for you will ultimately depend on elements like your workflow and the extent to which you want to empty this folder.

With this in mind, we’ll be going over some of the most common ways of removing files from your Trash folder permanently now.

#1 – Deleting Individual or Specific Items From Your Trash Folder

The Trash folder is there for a reason and you might opt to leverage it for just that. What we’re trying to say in earnest is that there are times when you will realize that there’s a chance you’ll need some of the contents of your Trash folder sooner or later.

In instances like this, it hardly makes sense to perform a complete wipe of the folder.

What you might want to do instead is selectively delete stuff that you’re certain you won’t be needing anymore.

All you have to do in this case is open your Trash folder, look through its contents, and settle on which files you want to delete. If you’ll be deleting multiple files and you want to handle all of that at once, just hold down the Command button and use your trackpad to highlight the files you want to go.

With that done, just control-click on the selected items and choose the “Delete Immediately” option. And, that’s all!

What to Remember

Please keep in mind that you do have the option of deleting files in a way that skips the trip to the Trash folder altogether.

As an example, if you’re sure that you want a file or folder gone permanently, you could just select this item and press the “Command x Option x Delete” key combo. This will remove the selected item from your computer completely. However, don’t forget that you won’t have the opportunity to recover such files anymore.

#2 – Commanding Your Trash Folder to Delete Automatically

As we said, the volume of data in your Trash folder can build up to staggering amounts rather unexpectedly. And, if you’re not careful, it’s only a matter of time before this starts to negatively affect the operational performance of your device.

Of course, you can always just come down to the Trash folder on your Mac device and do the needful. However, if you’re the busy sort, this might demand time that you’re ill-disposed to spare.

In this case, you can just command your Trash to automatically empty!

With this command in place, your Trash folder will automatically be emptied after a set period, ensuring that vital storage space isn’t tied up here.

To initiate this command, simply make your way to the “Finder” feature. From there, access “Preferences” and then choose the “Advanced” tab. From this position, you can then enable the “Remove Items From the Trash After 30 Days” option.

And that’s all!

#3 – Emptying the Trash Folder Completely

So, let’s assume that what’s deleted is deleted for you and you’re positive that you won’t have any reason to use those files again. There are a lot of interesting ways that you can make quick work of the contents of this folder.

One of them is to simply control-click the Trash icon to highlight it. Next, scroll through the options provided until you find “Empty trash”. Click on that and you’d have effectively disposed of everything in this folder.

Alternatively, you could simply open the Trash folder on your MacBook, look for the “Empty” option located at the top-right corner of the folder, and select it. Your deleted files will be gone in seconds.

Finally, you have the option of opening the Trash folder, selecting a space within that folder, and selecting “Empty Trash” afterward.

Of course, while doing all of this, keep in mind that your actions are permanent and you won’t be able to recover these items, moving forward.


Learning how to empty Trash on Mac is simple and doesn’t take much effort. The most important is to make sure that you are indeed not going to use these items anymore before ejecting them from your system altogether.

Once that’s assured, rest is easy!

For more tips on how to keep your MacBook in perfect condition, see this!

Article by:
Erwin Valles

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