Did you know that when you empty the Trash on your Mac, there’s still a chance that your sensitive data can be accessed? It’s the same when you delete something in the Recycle Bin in Windows: although it looks as thought the file has gone, someone with the right knowledge can still rescue it from the grave and find it lurking on your hard drive until it’s physically overwritten by new data.
If you are working on a sensitive project or want to delete personal information securely, then you will want to securely empty the Trash, which overwrites the data several times after “deleting” it. Fortunately, it’s easily done, so let’s take a look.
When you’re emptying the Trash, instead of right clicking on your Trash logo in the dock and selecting ‘Empty Trash’, go to the Finder menu on your menubar at the top of your screen.
If you click on ‘Finder’, you will see that one of the drop down options says ‘Secure Empty Trash…’. If you select this option, you will be asked to confirm that you do indeed wish to do this, and then your data will be deleted. It will take longer than it would if you were simply emptying it the normal way, as the data is also re-written, but it’s worth the extra time to make sure that your sensitive files remain inaccessible.
Another little trick if your Trash won’t empty is to hold the alt/option key down when right clicking it. This will give you the option to force the Trash to empty, and will have a better chance of success if the regular empty option isn’t working for some reason.
If you have any suggestions for future Mac or Windows tips, please leave a comment or email me at johnthompson [at] zath.co.uk.