Mac Tip: Secure Empty Trash In Mac OS X Lion

Posted in How To, Mac, OS X on 13/11/2011 by Mark Greentree


This Mac tip is provided by Mark Greentree and was originally posted on Mark’s blog – Everyday Mac Support. For more of Mark’s tips visit his site, follow him on Twitter, or browse his archive of posts here.

How To: Secure Empty Trash In Mac OS X Lion

Did you know that emptying your trash doesn’t completely remove the files from your computer?

By emptying the trash of unwanted files you are simply removing the files from view and allowing the computer to show more available storage space and overwrite those files at a later date with more files.

With this in mind, it also means that recovery software can be run on your computer to restore any of the deleted files.

The only time recovery software will not work, is when the computer has already written over the sectors containing information to the files you have deleted.

However, if you value the confidentiality of your data there is another way.

You can use ‘Secure Empty Trash’. This function can be found in the Finder as is shown below:

Selecting this when you have articles in the trash will present the following popup window:

To proceed simply press Secure Empty Trash.

By using this method, the data and corresponding sectors on your drive will be overwritten with ‘digital noise’ which is not readable information and will prevent you from ever recovering those files.

The ‘Secure Empty Trash’ method is said to meet the standard of erasing data by U.S. Department of Defence.

Secure Empty Trash has also been available in previous versions of the Mac OS.

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Mark Greentree

Mark Greentree is the principle blogger and podcast creator of Everyday Mac Support. His aim is to inform users at all levels of experience how to get the most out of the Apple hardware and associated software. He is the lead host of Not Another Mac Podcast, an Apple based round table discussion with Mac users and experts from all over world.