When you deleting things on the Mac you don’t actually delete them. Initially when you delete any kind of file it is just moved to your Trash. Click on the wastepaper basket icon in the bottom right and you’ll likely find it full of various files, downloads, screenshots and the like that you have tidied away.

You can easily drag and drop files from your Desktop into the Trash to ‘delete’ them, something we often used to do before Apple introduced Desktop Stacks in Mojave. Alternatively, you can right click on a file to Move to Trash.

But if your deleting frenzy is part of an attempt to free up some storage on your Mac, have a good old spring clean, or maybe you want to delete something incriminating, then simply putting it in the Trash isn’t going to be enough.

You then need to take the extra step of deleting what’s in the Trash. Which you can do simply by right-clicking or control-clicking on the Trash can icon. At this point in the cycle you are faced with a warning, requesting that you confirm that you really do want to delete.

It’s probably wise to heed warnings given by your Mac, such as this confirmation, because maybe you don’t want to permanently erase the items in the Trash. You don’t want to accidentally delete something important (especially if you don’t have a backup). However, if any this stage in the three step process to actually delete something you think it would be nice if the Finder didn’t ask you for permission before deleting, then we have the solution.

Stop Finder asking if you are sure you want to delete

How to immediately empty trash

To avoid the extra step of agreeing to empty the Trash, you could simply:

  1. Hold down the Option/Alt key on your keyboard when you right click on the Trash
  2. Choose Empty Trash.

That way the Trash will empty without any warning.

We have more advice about how to empty the trash on a Mac here.

How to stop Finder warning before deleting Trash

If you would prefer not to have to remember to hold down the Option/Alt key every time you can change your settings in System Preferences.

  1. Open a Finder window.
  2. From the menu above choose Finder > Preferences.
  3. Click on Advanced. Stop Finder asking permission before delete
  4. Deselect the Show warning before emptying the Trash option.

How to delete only one thing from Trash

What if you only want to delete one thing from the Trash, leaving the rest of the contents untouched? You can do that too.

  1. Open the Trash.
  2. Find the file you want to delete.
  3. Right-click or control-click on it.
  4. Choose Delete Immediately. Delete Immediately
  5. Annoyingly you will still have to confirm that you do really want to delete it, even if you have turned off the warning by following the steps above.

How to delete immediately (bypassing Trash)

What if you want to avoid having to go through the steps of deleting something twice in the first place though? Luckily you can do that too:

  1. Select the item you want to delete.
  2. Press Option/Alt + Command + Delete.
  3. You will see a warning asking if you are sure you want to delete, assuming you are, click Delete.

(The Option key is named the Alt key on some Macs). 

You may also be interested in How to delete or uninstall apps on a Mac.