How to Securely Empty Trash in MacOS

Make sure you do this second step when emptying your trash in macOS.
Zach Zach (248)

The default empty trash function in macOS isn't very secure. Data isn't actually overwritten; rather, macOS merely tells itself that the portion of the hard drive containing the deleted data can now be used to store new data, eventually overwriting it.

When you "securely empty" the trash, your computer will write a series of 0s over the old data, effectively destroying it. You used to be able to do this by simply changing your preferences. Like the beloved MacOS Dashboard, Apple has removed that feature in 2019.

Now, you must perform two steps when emptying your trash on your Mac.

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Empty Trash macOS
  • Navigate to your Trash folder by clicking the Trash icon.
  • Click Empty Trash.
  • Choose Empty Trash in pop-up window.
Arrow to Disk Utility macOS
  • Navigate to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility
  • Choose the drive in which you want to overwrite the empty space (hard drive).
  • Select the Erase tab.
  • Click Erase Free Space.
  • Use the horizontal knob to select your desired level of security.

Essentially, what this is asking is how many times you want to overwrite deleted data for security purposes. For most people, choosing the Fastest option (1 overwrite) will suffice. But you may need a more secure overwrite if you want to make sure that it's really difficult for your deleted data to be recovered. Choosing the Most Secure option will essentially make it nearly impossible for your old data to be recovered.)

  • Click Erase Free Space.
Zach Zach (248)
1 minute

Note: this guide will not work for current versions of macOS. Please see our new guide on how to securely empty trash in macOS for an updated version.