How do I delete files on my Mac?

Hey everyone, I recently switched to a Mac and I’m struggling to figure out how to delete files properly. I’ve tried a few things but the files just won’t seem to go away. Any tips or steps you can share? Thanks!

Hey! Welcome to the Mac world. It’s totally normal to fumble a bit when you’re adjusting to a new system. But don’t worry, deleting files on a Mac is pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it. I’m here to help you out, and we’ll go through a few different ways to get this done.

Method 1: Using the Trash

1. Drag and Drop:
This is probably the most intuitive way if you’re coming from Windows. Here’s what you do:

  • Select the File: Click on the file you want to delete. If you need to select multiple files, hold down the Command key while clicking on each file.
  • Drag to Trash: Simply drag the selected files to the Trash icon located on your Dock.

2. Right-Click and Move to Trash:

  • Select the File: As above, click on the file to select it.
  • Right-Click: Once the file is selected, right-click on it. A context menu should appear.
  • Move to Trash: Locate the option that says “Move to Trash” in the menu and click it.

3. Keyboard Shortcut:

  • Select the File: Same as above, click the file or use Command key for multiple.

  • Shortcut: Press Command + Delete. This instantly moves the selected files to the Trash.

    Alright, so those files are sitting in your Trash now. But they’re still taking up space. To get rid of them completely:

Empty the Trash:

  • Open Trash: Click on the Trash icon on your Dock.
  • Empty: In the upper-right corner of the Finder window, you’ll see an “Empty” button. Click it.
  • Confirm: If a confirmation window pops up, click “Empty Trash.”

Method 2: Using Finder

1. Open Finder:

  • Starting Point: Open a Finder window by clicking on the Finder icon (the smiley face) in your Dock.

2. Locate Files:

  • Navigate: Browse through your folders to find the files you want to delete.

3. Delete:

  • Select: Click on your file.
  • Move: Right-click and select “Move to Trash” or use the Command + Delete shortcut.

Again, don’t forget to empty your Trash afterward if you want to free up the space completely.

Method 3: Terminal Commands

Now, if you’re into a bit more power-user stuff, the Terminal can be your best friend:

1. Open Terminal:

  • Spotlight Search: Press Command + Space to open Spotlight, type “Terminal”, and hit Enter.

2. Delete Command:

  • Navigate to Location: Use the cd command to navigate to the location of your file. For example:

    cd /path/to/your/file
  • Delete File: Once in the correct directory, use the rm command to remove the file:

    rm filename.extension

    For directories, use:

    rm -r directoryname

    Be super careful with rm. There’s no Trash to recover from; once it’s gone, it’s really gone.

Method 4: Third-Party Apps

If you want a bit more control or features (like secure deletion), there are several apps you might find handy:

1. AppCleaner:

  • Download & Install: Grab AppCleaner from its official website.
  • Open AppCleaner: Drag the file or application you want to delete into the AppCleaner window, and it will take care of the rest.

2. CleanMyMac X:

  • Download & Install: Available on their official website.
  • Use Smart Scan: Run a Smart Scan, and then navigate to the File Shredder feature to delete files securely.


1. Permissions Issue:
Sometimes, files won’t delete because of permission issues. If you face this, do the following:

  • Get Info: Right-click the file and select “Get Info.”
  • Permissions: At the bottom, you’ll see “Sharing & Permissions.” Make sure you have the privilege to delete the file.

2. Locked Files:
If a file is locked, here’s what you do:

  • Unlock File: Right-click the file, select “Get Info,” and uncheck the box labeled “Locked.”

Quick Recap

So, just to sum it up, you’ve got a few different options:

  • Drag and Drop: Simple and intuitive.
  • Finder: Navigate and delete.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts: Quick and efficient.
  • Terminal: Advanced and caution-required.
  • Third-Party Apps: Safe and feature-rich.

Extra Tips

1. Automate Trash Emptying:
You can set your Trash to delete automatically after 30 days.

  • System Preferences: Go to System Preferences > Advanced.
  • Enable: Check the box for “Remove items from the Trash after 30 days.”

2. Secure Empty Trash:
For extra security:

  • Open Finder and then Finder Preferences (Command + ,).
  • Go to Advanced and check “Empty Trash securely.”

Final Thoughts

Switching to a new system takes time, but once you get the hang of it, a Mac can be pretty awesome. Apple makes a lot of things simple, and deleting files is no exception. So, don’t stress too much. You’ll get there!

Feel free to ask if you have any more questions. Happy deleting!