How to Delete a File on a Mac: Simple Steps to Clean Up Your Hard Drive

When using a Mac computer, managing files and documents is an essential task. Sometimes, we need to delete a file to free up space on our device, or simply get rid of an unwanted document. If you are unsure about how to delete a file on a Mac, fret not. This article will guide you through the steps and explain some useful tips to ensure you are doing it efficiently.


Step 1: Select the file to delete

To start the process of deleting a file, you must first select the file you wish to delete. You can do this by double-clicking the file or by going to the folder where the file is located.

Step 2: Drag the file to the trash bin

Once you have selected the file, the easiest way to delete it is by dragging it to the trash bin. You can find the trash bin icon on the right side of your dock. Simply drag the file to the trash, and it will be moved there for safekeeping until you are ready to permanently delete it.

Step 3: Right-click to open the context menu

Another way to delete a file is by right-clicking on the file to bring up the context menu. From there, you can select the “Move to Trash” option, which will move the file to the trash bin for you.

Step 4: Use the keyboard shortcut

If you prefer using keyboard shortcuts, you can use the “Command + Delete” shortcut to delete a selected file. This shortcut works in the same way as dragging the file to the trash bin.

Step 5: Empty the trash bin

Once you have moved a file to the trash bin, it is not permanently deleted yet. To do that, you need to empty the trash bin. You can do this by right-clicking on the trash bin icon and selecting “Empty Trash.”

Step 6: Confirm the action

Emptying the trash bin will permanently delete all the files inside it. Before doing so, make sure you have reviewed the contents of the trash bin to avoid accidentally deleting something important.

Step 7: Use the CleanMyMac X app

If you want a more efficient way of deleting files, you can use the CleanMyMac X app. This app allows you to scan your Mac for unwanted files and delete them with just a few clicks.

Step 8: Use the Terminal app

If you have some experience using the command line, you can use the Terminal app to delete files. Simply type in the command “rm” followed by the file path and press enter to delete the file.

Step 9: Use the Finder search bar

If you are looking for a specific file to delete, you can use the Finder search bar to locate it quickly. Type in the name of the file, and it will appear in the search results. From there, you can select it and move it to the trash bin.

Step 10: Limit the number of files on your desktop

To make the process of deleting files easier, it is recommended to limit the number of files you have on your desktop. Having too many files can make it challenging to locate the ones you want to delete.

Step 11: Back up important files

Before deleting any files, make sure you have backed up any essential documents to avoid losing them permanently. You can use cloud storage services, external hard drives, or USB drives.

Step 12: Follow recycling regulations

When deleting files, make sure you follow recycling regulations and properly dispose of any electronics. Recycling centers exist specifically to recycle electronics and prevent harm to the environment.


Deleting a file on a Mac is a simple process once you know the steps. You can use various methods, such as dragging the file to the trash bin, using keyboard shortcuts, or the Terminal app. It is important to note that deleted files are not permanently deleted until you empty the trash bin, so make sure to review its contents first. If you want an efficient way to delete files, consider using the CleanMyMac X app, which can scan your Mac for unwanted files. To make the process easier, limit the number of files on your desktop and back up any important documents before deleting them.

Tips and Tricks

1. Use keyboard shortcuts to save time

Learn keyboard shortcuts to speed up the process of deleting files. You can use the “Command + Delete” shortcut to delete a selected file and “Shift + Command + Delete” to empty the trash bin.

2. Organize your files regularly

Organizing your files regularly can help you locate the ones you want to delete quickly. Use folders and subfolders to categorize your files and keep your desktop clean.

3. Use the Preview app to delete photos

If you want to delete photos, use the Preview app instead of dragging them to the trash bin. This allows you to select multiple images and delete them at once.

4. Use the Secure Empty Trash option for sensitive files

If you need to delete sensitive files, use the “Secure Empty Trash” option. This permanently deletes the files and ensures they cannot be recovered.

5. Use third-party apps for large files

If you have large files to delete, such as videos, use third-party apps like OmniDiskSweeper to locate and delete them.

6. Back up your important files regularly

Backing up your important files regularly ensures that you don’t lose anything important when deleting unwanted documents.

7. Use a cloud storage service for easy access to files

Using a cloud storage service like iCloud allows you to access your files from anywhere and makes it easier to delete and manage your documents.

8. Use a file-sharing service for temporary files

If you need to share files temporarily, consider using file-sharing services like Dropbox, which allow you to delete the files after they have been shared.

9. Use the “put back” option

If you accidentally delete a file, use the “put back” option to recover it. Simply right-click on the file in the trash bin and select “put back.”

10. Use the “recently deleted” folder for recovery

If you have deleted a file and are unable to locate it, check the “recently deleted” folder. This folder temporarily stores deleted files and allows you to recover them if needed.

In conclusion, deleting a file on a Mac is a straightforward process that can be done using various methods. It is essential to review the contents of the trash bin before permanently deleting files and to back up any important documents. Organizing files regularly, using third-party apps, and following recycling regulations can also make the process easier and more efficient. Remember to use the tips and tricks provided and find what works best for you.

Advantages and Disadvantages of How to Delete a File on a Mac


1. Easy access to delete files – deleting a file on a Mac can be done in a few simple steps without any complicated procedures or commands.

2. Speed – deleting files on a Mac is a quick process and helps free up space on the hard drive quickly.

3. Recovery Options – Mac provides options to recover a deleted file from trash within a certain timeframe, ensuring accidental deletions can be reversed.

4. Secure Deletion – With Mac, there is an option to securely delete files to ensure that no data can be recovered from the deleted file.

5. Organized Storage – deleting unnecessary files ensures your Mac’s storage is organized, preventing clutter on the hard drive, and making it easier to navigate important files.

6. Protection – deleting sensitive documents or private data ensures the information is not accessible to unauthorized users, providing added protection.

7. Optimizes System Performance – by deleting unnecessary files, the system’s performance is optimized, which increases speed and efficiency.

8. Accessible from Anywhere – deleting files on a Mac can be accessed from anywhere using cloud storage like iCloud or Google Drive.

9. Multiple File Selection – Mac allows users to select multiple files at once and delete them together, making the process more efficient and convenient.

10. More Control – Deleting files enables users to have more control over their storage space and data, making it easier to keep track of important information.


1. Accidental Deletion – there is a chance that one may accidentally delete important files while trying to get rid of unnecessary files.

2. Deleting Files Permanently – once a file is permanently deleted, it is impossible to recover it, making precautiousness important while deleting files.

3. Loss of Data – if a user deletes a file and later realizes that it was important, they may face the loss of valuable data permanently.

4. Deleted Data Can be Recovered – even though Mac provides secure deletion options, it is still possible to recover deleted data using third-party software.

5. Time Consuming – deleting large files or a lot of files at once can be a time-consuming process, especially on an older Mac.

6. Potential for User Error – performing the wrong steps while deleting files can result in the accidental deletion of important data.

7. Ongoing Storage Management – constantly deleting files is essential for maintaining a clean and organized Mac, but it can be a time-consuming task.

8. Prone to Hacking – when deleting files, one must ensure that files with sensitive information or personal data are deleted securely to prevent hacking attempts.

9. Confusion with Trash – some users may accidentally delete files from the trash bin as opposed to permanently deleting them, leading to confusion.

10. Limited Storage – while deleting files is essential, it does not address the issue of limited storage on a Mac. Upgrading or expanding the storage may be needed in some cases.


1. How do I delete a file on a Mac?

To delete a file on a Mac, simply click on the file and drag it to the Trash bin in your Dock. Alternatively, you can right-click on the file and select “Move to Trash”.

2. Can I recover a file that I accidentally deleted?

Yes, you can. Open the Trash bin and find the file you want to recover. Right-click on the file and select “Put Back”. The file will be restored to its original location.

3. What if I want to delete a file permanently?

If you want to delete a file permanently, hold down the “Option” key while right-clicking on the file. Select “Delete Immediately” from the dropdown menu.

4. Can I delete multiple files at once?

Yes, you can. Select all the files you want to delete and drag them to the Trash bin at the same time.

5. What if a file is locked and I can’t delete it?

You will need to unlock the file first. Right-click on the file and select “Get Info”. Uncheck the “Locked” checkbox and try deleting the file again.

6. What happens when I empty the Trash bin?

All the files in the Trash bin will be permanently deleted from your Mac’s hard drive.

7. Can I recover a file after emptying the Trash bin?

No, you cannot. Once you empty the Trash bin, the files are permanently deleted and cannot be recovered.

8. What if I accidentally empty the Trash bin?

You can use data recovery software to try and recover the deleted files, but there is no guarantee that you will be able to retrieve them.

9. Can I delete system files?

It is not recommended to delete system files unless you know what you are doing. Deleting system files can cause problems with your Mac’s operating system.

10. What if I can’t find the Trash bin on my Dock?

You can access the Trash bin by clicking on the Finder icon in your Dock. The Trash bin will be located in the sidebar on the left side of the Finder window.

11. What if I accidentally delete a file I need?

You can try recovering the file from a backup or using data recovery software. It is always a good idea to regularly back up your important files to prevent data loss.

12. Can I delete files from an external hard drive?

Yes, you can. When you connect an external hard drive to your Mac, it will appear on your desktop or in the Finder window. You can delete files from the external hard drive just like you would from your Mac’s hard drive.

13. What if my Mac is running low on storage space?

You can free up storage space by deleting old or unnecessary files, emptying the Trash bin, and uninstalling unused applications. You can also invest in an external hard drive to store files that you don’t need immediate access to.

How to Delete a File on a Mac

When it comes to deleting files on a Mac, it might seem like a simple task, but it can become confusing for new users. Here’s a step by step guide on how to delete a file on a Mac.

Conclusion and Closing

Now that you know how to delete a file on a Mac, it’s important to remember that deleting a file permanently removes it from your computer. Make sure that you are deleting the right files before you proceed. Hopefully, this guide has helped you streamline your workflow and made deleting files on your Mac a breeze.

If you have any other questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to Apple support or consult a Mac expert. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep practicing and mastering new skills on your Mac.

Thank you for reading and happy deleting!