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Are you worried that sensitive documents that you delete from your Mac could be recovered later on? There are more secure ways to remove files from your system that can help prevent this from happening. In this article, we’ll show you how to secure empty trash on Mac Catalina.
Before we start
You can quickly and securely delete data from your Mac by using MacKeeper Safe Cleanup. This handy utility safely clears hidden junk from your system, including unnecessary log files, caches, and trash, rapidly freeing up lots of disk space.
Here’s how to use it:
- Download MacKeeper and install it on your Mac.
- Click Safe Cleanup in the MacKeeper sidebar.
- Click the Start Scan button to find all hidden junk on your system.
- Select the files you want to remove, then click Clean Junk Files.
Why you need to use Secure Empty Trash on macOS Catalina
Did you know that when you delete a file from your Mac, it doesn’t actually get removed from your storage drive right away? Using data recovery software, deleted files can be easily recovered, which means Secure Empty Trash is needed to safely remove sensitive documents.
When you use Secure Empty Trash, deleted data is properly overwritten—rather than just left dormant until other files overwrite it later. By clearing the data right away, this feature eliminates the possibility that special tools will be able to restore the deleted data later on.
Secure Delete option was removed in the new macOS versions
Secure Empty Trash, a feature that is used to be baked into macOS, has proven to be ineffective on more modern computers that use a solid-state drive (SSD). As a result, Apple removed the feature from its operating system as of macOS 10.11 El Capitan, so it’s no longer available.
Still, if you have a compatible Mac, it’s possible to downgrade Catalina to Mojave or earlier versions of macOS to restore the Secure Empty Trash feature, but there are other solutions for macOS Catalina if you don’t want to go down that route.
How to Secure Empty Trash on OS X Catalina
Three of the simplest and most effective ways to Secure Empty Trash or protect sensitive documents on macOS Catalina include:
- Encrypt files using FileVault: If you want to keep sensitive files on your Mac, using FileVault to encrypt them is a great way to ensure their protection.
- Use the Terminal command: A simple Terminal command can be used to empty the trash can on your Mac.
- Clear drive with Disk Utility: Before selling or giving away a Mac, clearing its drive with Disk Utility is the best way to remove your data.
1. Encrypt files using FileVault
If you store sensitive data, it’s important to encrypt it. You can do that using FileVault, which is built into macOS, by following these steps:
- Open System Preferences on your Mac, then click Privacy & Security.
- Select FileVault, then click Turn On FileVault.
- Choose how you would like to unlock your disk, then click Continue.
It may take a while for your data to be encrypted, especially if you have a lot of it, but you can continue to use your MacBook in the meantime.
Bear in mind that if you choose to use a recovery key for FileVault, it’s incredibly important to store it somewhere safe. If you lose your recovery key, you won’t be able to unlock FileVault or recover your encrypted data later on.
2. Use the Terminal command
You can quickly empty trash or immediately delete files on Mac Catalina using a Terminal command. Here’s how:
- Open Terminal on your Mac.
- Type sudo rm -R, but don’t press enter yet.
- Drag the trash can icon, or the file you want to delete, into Terminal.
- Press enter, then enter your Mac’s password.
- Press enter again.
Hint from our team:
Another easy way to empty the trash can on Mac is to use MacKeeper Safe Cleanup, which can not only clear deleted files, but also hidden junk that you might never see. This can free up space on your Mac for more important data. Here’s how to use it:
- Open MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup in the sidebar.
- Click the Start Scan button and wait for MacKeeper to identify all junk on your system.
- Ensure that Trash is selected, as well as any other files you want to remove.
- Click Clean Junk Files to remove the data from your Mac.
3. Clear drive with Disk Utility
If you’re planning to sell or give away your Mac and you want to ensure sensitive data cannot be recovered from it, it’s best to use Disk Utility to clear its drive completely. First, enter System Recovery, then do this:
- Open Disk Utility.
- Select your Mac’s primary drive.
- Click the Erase button.
- Enter a drive name, then click Erase.
If you’re unsure how to get into System Recovery, here are the instructions:
- Restart your Mac.
- Immediately hold down the Command and R keys on your keyboard.
- Enter your Mac’s password when prompted.
- Select Disk Utility, then click Continue.
- Follow the steps above to use Disk Utility in Recovery Mode.
How to restore removed files on macOS Catalina
Accidentally deleted files that you need from your Mac? You can recover them from a Time Machine backup if you have one.
Here’s how to recover files from a Time Machine backup:
- Click the Time Machine icon in your Mac’s menu bar.
- Select Browse Time Machine backups.
- Choose a backup that contains the files you deleted, then click Restore.
When you restore data using Time Machine, the files are returned to their original locations. For instance, if you deleted a file from the Downloads folder, it’ll reappear in the same place after the Time Machine restore has been completed.
You should be able to restore deleted files from other backups, but the process for that will vary depending on which backup solution you use. For instance, if you keep copies of sensitive documents in the cloud or on an external drive, you should be able to recover them from there.
Securely deleting data from your Mac
Emptying your Mac’s trash can is a quick and easy way to rid your computer of unwanted files, but it’s not as permanent as you might assume. Deleted data can often be restored by good recovery tools, which is why it’s important to use Secure Empty Trash for more sensitive items.
MacKeeper’s Smart Cleanup tool is a fast and effective way to clear hidden and unnecessary junk from your Mac. It not only empties your trash can safely, but it also finds and removes files that you simply don’t need, freeing up precious storage space for more important documents.
*You can download the app for free and try its functionality yourself before making a purchase.