How to Delete a File on Mac: Step-by-Step Guide

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Are you a new Mac user who struggles with deleting files on your computer? Or perhaps you’ve been a Mac user for a while, but you still find yourself unsure of the proper way to delete files. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of how to delete files on your Mac, so you can keep your computer organized and running smoothly.


Step 1: Identify The File

Click on Finder.

To start the process, you first need to open the Finder application. You can do this by clicking on the Finder icon on the Dock, which is the row of icons located at the bottom of your screen.

Select The Folder That Contains The File.

Once you have opened Finder, navigate to the folder that contains the file you want to delete.

Locate The File You Want To Delete.

Once you have located the folder, find the file that you want to delete. If you have trouble finding the file, you can use the Finder search bar to search for its name or extension.

Step 2: Move The File To The Trash

Drag And Drop The File.

Once you have found the file you want to delete, simply click and drag it to the Trash icon on the Dock. The Trash icon is a small wastebasket icon located at the end of the Dock.

Use The Right-Click Option.

If you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts, you can also right-click on the file and select “Move to Trash” from the drop-down menu.

Step 3: Empty The Trash

Open The Trash Folder.

To permanently delete the file, you need to empty the Trash folder. You can access the Trash folder by clicking on the Trash icon on the Dock. This will open a window with all the files you have recently deleted.

Empty The Trash.

Once you have opened the Trash folder, you can click on the “Empty” button located at the top right corner of the window. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + Delete to empty the Trash.


Deleting files on a Mac is a simple process, but it’s important to understand the steps involved to avoid accidentally deleting important files. The first step is to identify the file you want to delete by opening the Finder app and locating the folder it is saved in. Once you have found the file, you can move it to the Trash by either dragging and dropping it onto the Trash icon or using the right-click option. After you have moved the file to the Trash, you need to empty the Trash folder to permanently delete the file from your computer.

Tips and Tricks:

Tip 1: Use Keyboard Shortcuts.

Mac has a variety of keyboard shortcuts that can make deleting files quicker and easier, such as Command + Delete to move a file to Trash, Command + Shift + Delete to empty the Trash, and Command + Option + Delete to bypass the Trash and permanently delete a file.

Tip 2: Use The Preview Feature.

Before permanently deleting a file, you can use the Preview feature to make sure you are deleting the right file. Simply select the file in Finder and press the space bar to preview it.

Tip 3: Be Careful When Using The Option Key.

The Option key can be used to skip the warning message when deleting a file, but it can also permanently delete files without them going to the Trash. Make sure you know what you are doing before using this option.

Tip 4: Use The Secure Empty Trash Feature.

If you have sensitive files that you want to permanently delete without leaving any trace, you can use the Secure Empty Trash feature. This overwrites the deleted files with random data to prevent anyone from recovering them. To enable this feature, go to Finder > Preferences > Advanced and check the box for “Empty Trash securely.”

Tip 5: Use A Third-Party App.

If you have a large number of files to delete, you can use a third-party app like CleanMyMac to speed up the process. These apps can also help you locate duplicate files and clear out temporary files to free up space on your computer.

Tip 6: Backup Your Files.

Before deleting any files, it’s important to make sure you have backups of the files in case you need to retrieve them later. You can use Mac’s built-in Time Machine feature to backup your files.

Tip 7: Be Mindful Of Shared Folders.

If you share folders with other users on your Mac, be cautious when deleting files. Deleting a file from a shared folder will also delete it for other users who have access to that folder.

Tip 8: Delete Downloads Folder Regularly.

Your Downloads folder can quickly become cluttered with files you no longer need. Regularly deleting unnecessary files from this folder can free up space on your computer and make it easier to find the files you do need.

Tip 9: Use The Trash As A Temporary Storage Area.

If you are not sure whether you want to permanently delete a file, you can use the Trash as a temporary storage area. This can be useful if you need to free up space on your computer but are not ready to let go of certain files yet.

Tip 10: Organize Your Files.

Properly organizing your files can make it easier to find and delete files when you no longer need them. Consider creating folders for different types of files and regularly sorting them to keep your computer clean and organized.

In conclusion, deleting files on a Mac is a simple process that can be done in just a few steps. By following the tips and tricks we provided, you can make sure you are deleting files safely and efficiently, and also keep your computer running smoothly.

Advantages and Disadvantages of How to Delete File on Mac


1. More Secure: When you delete a file on Mac, it is not completely removed from your system. Instead, it is moved to the Trash Bin. This allows you to retrieve the file in case you accidentally deleted it. However, when you empty the Trash Bin, the file is then completely removed from your system, making it more secure.

2. Saves Space: Deleting unwanted files frees up disk space, which can be helpful if you have a lot of files on your Mac.

3. Improves Performance: By removing unnecessary files, your Mac’s performance may improve, as the system has more room to breathe and doesn’t have to work as hard to find files on the disk.

4. Organizes Your Files: Deleting unwanted files can help you keep your files organized. This can make it easier to find the files you need and help prevent clutter on your desktop.

5. Increases Privacy: Deleting sensitive files ensures that no one else can access them. This is particularly important if you’re sharing your Mac with others.

6. Speeds Up Backups: If you have a backup system in place for your Mac, deleting unnecessary files can speed up the backup process by reducing the amount of data that needs to be backed up.

7. Frees Up RAM: Deleting unwanted files can also help free up RAM, which can lead to improved performance on your Mac.

8. Reduces Clutter: By eliminating unwanted files, you can reduce clutter on your desktop and other folders.

9. Removes Malware: If you suspect that a file on your Mac is infected with malware, deleting the file can help remove the threat from your system.

10. Customizable: The process of deleting files on Mac is highly customizable, with options to delete individual files, entire folders, or even to delete files automatically after a certain period of time.


1. Data Loss: If you mistakenly delete important files and empty the Trash Bin, you may end up losing your data permanently.

2. Accidental Deletion: It’s easy to accidentally delete files if you’re not careful, especially if you’re in a hurry or dealing with a cluttered desktop.

3. Time-Consuming: If you have a large number of files to delete, the process can be time-consuming.

4. Limited Storage: If you don’t have enough storage space on your Mac, you may not be able to delete files without deleting important data.

5. Risks to System Files: Accidentally deleting system files can wreak havoc on your Mac’s performance.

6. No Undo Feature: Once you’ve emptied the Trash Bin, you can’t undo the deletion of files. So, be sure you want to delete them before you click on “Empty Trash”.

7. Hidden Files: Some files on your Mac may be hidden, making it difficult to know which files are safe to delete.

8. Difficult to Retrieve Deleted Files: If you’ve emptied the Trash Bin and need to retrieve a file, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover.

9. Hard to Manage: If you have a large number of files on your Mac, managing them can be difficult and time-consuming.

10. Risk of Deleting Shared Files: If you’re sharing files with others on your Mac, deleting files can create problems if the files are needed by someone else.


1. Can I delete a file permanently on Mac?

Yes, you can permanently delete a file on Mac by using the Secure Empty Trash option.

2. How do I delete a file on Mac?

Simply click on the file you want to delete and press the delete button or drag it to the trash can.

3. Can I recover a file I deleted on Mac?

Yes, you can recover a deleted file on Mac from the trash can or by using a data recovery software.

4. How do I empty my trash can?

Right-click on the trash can icon and select “Empty Trash” or click on “Finder” and select “Secure Empty Trash”.

5. Is there a shortcut for deleting files on Mac?

Yes, you can press the command and delete keys simultaneously to delete a file on Mac.

6. What happens when I delete a file on Mac?

The file is moved to the trash can. It is not permanently deleted until the trash can is emptied.

7. How long does a file stay in the trash can?

A file stays in the trash can until it is manually deleted or the trash can is emptied.

8. Can I delete multiple files on Mac at once?

Yes, you can select multiple files and delete them at once by pressing the delete key or dragging them to the trash can.

9. How do I recover a file from the trash can?

Simply click on the file you want to recover and drag it to the desktop or any other location.

10. Can I delete files from an external hard drive on Mac?

Yes, you can delete files from an external hard drive on Mac. Simply connect the hard drive and delete the files as usual.

11. How do I delete files from iCloud on Mac?

You can delete files from iCloud on Mac by selecting the file and pressing the delete button or dragging it to the trash can.

12. Can I recover a permanently deleted file on Mac?

It is difficult to recover a permanently deleted file on Mac. You may need to use a data recovery software.

13. How do I delete a file that is in use on Mac?

You may need to close the application that is using the file before you can delete it. Alternatively, you can force quit the application and then delete the file.

How to Delete File on Mac

Deleting a file on a Mac is simple and straightforward. Whether it’s a document, a picture or even an application, the process of deleting it is pretty much the same. In this article, we will guide you on how to delete files on a Mac computer.

Conclusion and Closing

In conclusion, deleting files on a Mac is an easy task as long as you follow the correct process. Always remember to double-check before deleting any important files and make sure you back up important documents regularly to avoid any mishap. With these tips, you should be able to confidently delete files and free up space on your Mac without any worries. Thank you for reading and we hope this article has been helpful to you!

Until next time, happy deleting!