Secure File Deletion in Mac OS X
For Apple computers that either have a SSD for hard drive, or are running Mac OS X 10.11:
Secure Delete is ineffective on computers that use Solid State Drives (SSDs), and the Secure Delete option has been removed from Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) as Apple moves to SSDs in all of their new computers.
For these computers, we recommend you encrypt the computer with File Vault.
When deleting a file on a computer where File Vault is enabled, the deleted file data will remain encrypted.
If you are using a Mac that is running OS X 10.4 through 10.10 and it has a spinning hard drive (typically all desktop Macs and most laptops that have a CD/DVD drive), you can either also use File Vault, or continue to follow the directions below to use Secure Delete when emptying the trash.
To check if your computer has a SSD or spinning hard drive:
- Click on the Apple logo in the menubar and select About this Mac.
- Click either System Report or System Info
- In the System Information report, go to Hardware > Storage.
- If there are two panes on the right, in the top right pane, click on the drive that is your main hard drive (typically Macintosh HD).
- In the bottom right pane, look for the Physical Volume section.
- Look for the Medium Type field.
To Secure Empty Trash on a spinning hard drive:
- Drag the files or folders you wish to securely delete to the Trash, located at the far right end of the Dock.
- Click once on the Trash icon to open the Trash folder and make sure you are ok with permanently deleting all files and folders in the Trash.
- From the menubar, choose Finder > Secure Empty Trash.
- You will see a warning message alerting you that the files will be deleted. Click OK to start the secure deletion process.
- NOTE: The Secure Emprty Trash process takes slightly longer than a normal emptying of the Trash because the files and folders are overwritten several times to make them unrecoverable.
- Once the progress bar disappears, all files and folders that were in the Trash have been securely erased and are completely irrecoverable.