Mac Performance

Secure Empty Trash on Mac Catalina

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:

  1. Download MacKeeper and install it on your Mac.
  2. Click Safe Cleanup in the MacKeeper sidebar.
  3. Click the Start Scan button to find all hidden junk on your system.
  4. 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:

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:

  1. Open System Preferences on your Mac, then click Privacy & Security.
  2. Select FileVault, then click Turn On FileVault.
  3. Choose how you would like to unlock your disk, then click Continue.
System Preferences in macOS Catalina shows all system options. Click Security & Privacy to access FileVault settings.
Step 1. In System Preferences, select Security & Privacy
System Preferences in macOS Catalina shows the Security & Privacy menu. Select FileVault, then click Turn On FileVault to encrypt all data on your Mac.
Step 2. Select FileVault, then click Turn On FileVault
System Preferences on macOS Catalina shows the FileVault window. Select the unlock method you prefer, then click Continue.
Step 3. Choose your preference, 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:

  1. Open Terminal on your Mac.
  2. Type sudo rm -R, but don’t press enter yet.
  3. Drag the trash can icon, or the file you want to delete, into Terminal.
  4. Press enter, then enter your Mac’s password.
  5. Press enter again.
Terminal in macOS Catalina shows the command for deleting files. Enter sudo rm -R, but don't press enter yet.
Step 1. In Terminal, type this command but don’t press enter
Terminal in macOS Catalina shows the command for deleting files. Drag the trash or any file you want to delete into Terminal.
Step 2. Drag the trash or any file you want to delete into Terminal
Terminal in macOS Catalina shows the command for deleting files. After dragging in the files you want to delete, press enter.
Step 3. Enter your password, then press enter

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:

  1. Open MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup in the sidebar.
  2. Click the Start Scan button and wait for MacKeeper to identify all junk on your system.
  3. Ensure that Trash is selected, as well as any other files you want to remove.
  4. Click Clean Junk Files to remove the data from your Mac.
MacKeeper on macOS Catalina shows the Safe Cleanup screen. Click Start Scan to find all hidden junk on your Mac.
Step 1. In MacKeeper, click Safe Cleanup > Start Scan
MacKeeper on macOS Catalina shows the Safe Cleanup screen. Select the files you want to remove, then click Clean Junk Files.
Step 2. Select files you want to remove > click Clean Junk Files

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:

  1. Open Disk Utility.
  2. Select your Mac’s primary drive.
  3. Click the Erase button.
  4. Enter a drive name, then click Erase.
Disk Utility in macOS Catalina shows all available drives. Select the drive you want to clear, then click the Erase button.
Step 1. Select your drive, then click Erase
Disk Utility in macOS Catalina shows the Erase drive option. Give your drive a name, then click Erase.
Step 2. Give your drive a name, then click Erase

If you’re unsure how to get into System Recovery, here are the instructions:

  1. Restart your Mac.
  2. Immediately hold down the Command and R keys on your keyboard.
  3. Enter your Mac’s password when prompted.
  4. Select Disk Utility, then click Continue.
  5. Follow the steps above to use Disk Utility in Recovery Mode.
Mac keyboard shows the keys needed to enter Recovery Mode in macOS Catalina. Restart your Mac, then immediately press and hold Command + R.
Step 1. Restart your Mac, then hold down Command + R
 Recovery Mode in macOS Catalina shows all recovery options. Select Disk Utility, then click Continue.
Step 2. Select Disk Utility, then click Continue

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:

  1. Click the Time Machine icon in your Mac’s menu bar.
  2. Select Browse Time Machine backups.
  3. Choose a backup that contains the files you deleted, then click Restore.
The Time Machine menu in macOS Catalina shows all Time Machine options. Click Browse Time Machine backups to recover files from a previous backup.
Step 1. Select Browse Time Machine Backups
Time Machine in macOS Catalina shows the option to restore a backup. Select the backup you want to restore, then click Continue.
Step 2. Select the backup you want to Restore > click Continue

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.

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