Using the Trash on Your MacBook with El Capitan - dummies

Using the Trash on Your MacBook with El Capitan

By Mark L. Chambers

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

The translucent El Capitan Trash icon resides in 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 a Desktop icon for an external device or a removable media drive to the Trash (such as an iPod, DVD, or external hard drive), the Trash icon turns into a giant Eject icon, and the removable device or medium 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 ways to chuck 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 ⌘+Delete.

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

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 any other folder in a Finder window. (If you’re doing this for someone who’s unfamiliar with El Capitan, remember to act like it was 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 laptop, and you want to make sure that no one can recover the files you’ve sent to the Trash, use the Secure Empty Trash command. It takes a little time but helps ensure that no third-party hard drive repair or recovery program can resuscitate the items you discard.

  • Press ⌘+Shift+Delete.

  • Right-click the Trash icon in the Dock and choose Empty Trash from the menu that appears.