How to securely delete Mac OS X files in Trash basket

Ever wondered whether your deleted files in the Mac OS X Trash basket are actually deleted forever? Well, let me tell you, that any files you have deleted in Trash could still be accessed. Deleting files on your Mac is of course very easy. All you do is drag the file(s) into the Trash basket or you can right click on the file(s) and choose Move to Trash from the contextual menu.

The Trash basket is actually a folder, so when you drop a file into it, the file will still be resident on your hard disk. However, there are still simple and free ways to delete files securely, so they will never be recovered. Here is a little known method of securely deleting your Trash basket:

  • Open Finder and using the Finder pull-down menu in the top bar select Secure Empty Trash
  • You can also right click the Trash basket on the Dock and then PRESS and HOLD the cmd key and click Secure Empty Trash
  • Note: Using this secure deleting feature will take longer, but remember you will have piece of mind!

The Secure Empty Trash feature overwrites the deleted space seven times (referred to as ‘seven-pass DOD specification’), which meets the US Department of Defence security standards for the sanitization of magnetic media in DoD 5220-22-M: National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual. So you can really feel rest assured you now have DOD level of security on your Mac OS X.

I did however notice that after a little research on the ‘srm’ sourceforge page, there is a Feature Request for support for resource forks. The comments in that feature request do appear to indicate that the resource forks are not subject to secure delete. Some file types therefore might not be deleted. More research will be needed to confirm this, however like I already said it passes DOD security standards, so I’d suggest you start securely deleting right away!

Safe surfing folks!


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3 Responses to How to securely delete Mac OS X files in Trash basket

  1. Pingback: How to securely delete Mac OS X files in Trash basket | News | IT Security Magazine - Hakin9

  2. Steven Cross says:

    Is there anything one can do to ensure deleted files are secure after the fact? That is after they were deleted but not with the secure option function.

  3. Julian says:

    Update: If you have already deleted files without using the secure option, then you can use Disk Utility to securely erase your free space. This option is not available if you are using a solid state disk (SSD).

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