The iMac's Trash Icon - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

A sign of an iMac power user is a well-maintained Trash bin. It’s a breeze to empty the discarded items you no longer need, and you can even rescue something that you suddenly discover you still need!

The Mavericks Trash bin resides on the Dock, and it works just like the Trash has always worked in OS X: Simply drag selected items to the Trash to delete them.

Note one very important exception: If you drag an external device or removable media drive icon on your Desktop to the Trash (such as an iPod, an iPhone, a DVD, or an external hard drive), the Trash bin icon automagically turns into a giant Eject icon, and the removable device or media is ejected or shut down — not erased. Repeat, not erased. (That’s why the Trash icon changes to the Eject icon — to remind you that you’re not doing anything destructive.)

Here are other methods of chunking items you select to go to the wastebasket:

  • Choose File→Move to Trash.

  • Click the Action button on the Finder toolbar and choose Move to Trash from the list that appears.

  • Press the Command key+Delete.

  • Right-click the item and choose Move to Trash from the right-click menu.

You can always tell when the Trash contains at least one item because the basket icon is full of crumpled paper! However, you don’t have to unfold a wad of paper to see what the Trash holds: Just click the Trash icon in the Dock to display the contents of the Trash. To rescue something from the Trash, drag the item(s) from the Trash folder to the Desktop or to any other folder in a Finder window. (If you’re doing this for someone else who’s not familiar with Mavericks, remember to act as though it were a lot of work, and you’ll earn big-time DRP, or Data Rescue Points.)

When you’re sure that you want to permanently delete the contents of the Trash, use one of these methods to empty the Trash:

  • Choose Finder→Empty Trash.

  • Choose Finder→Secure Empty Trash.

    If security is an issue around your iMac, and you want to make sure that no one can recover the files you’ve sent to the Trash, using the Secure Empty Trash command takes a little time but helps to ensure that no third-party hard drive repair or recovery program could resuscitate the items you discard.

  • Press the Command key+Shift+Delete.

  • Right-click the Trash icon on the Dock and then choose Empty Trash from the right-click menu.