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How To Permanently Delete Files From Your Computer

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Posted in: Apple, Microsoft or Windows, Tech Tips


Method 1 (Two Steps): Delete/Send files into the Recycle Bin then Empty the Recycle Bin

  1. Select the folder or file(s) that you want to delete in File Explorer then right-click to show the contextual menu, choose Delete. IMPORTANT NOTE: This action moves the selected file(s) to the Recycle Bin, from which they can be recovered – it does NOT permanently delete files so you will need to permanently delete from the Recycle Bin as a second step.
  2. Empty Recycle BinEmpty your Recycle Bin. This will permanently delete everything in the Recycle Bin to be sure to check that there’s nothing in the bin you do want to keep. If you find any items that you do not want deleted, right-click them then select Restore on this individual files or folders. Once you have confirmed that everything in the Recycle Bin can be removed, right-click on the Recycle Bin icon and select “Empty Recycle Bin”. You may be prompted to confirm the permanent deletion of all items in the Recycle Bin.


Method 2 (One Step): Active files on your hard drive (not yet in the Recycle Bin)

To delete file(s) without moving to the Recycle Bin first, select the folder or files and press SHIFT+Delete (at the same time) on your keyboard. Windows 10 asks for confirmation before it removes the files – when you are asked “Are you sure you want to permanently delete this file(s)?”, press Yes. This action bypasses the Recycle Bin and permanently deletes the selected file(s).


Delete/Send files to Trash then Force Empty/Delete Items in Trash

Drag or right-click to trash files, folders and other items or select the item, then press Command-Delete. IMPORTANT NOTE: The items aren’t deleted until you empty the Trash.

If an item is locked, you need to confirm you want to move it to the Trash, or unlock the item before putting it in the Trash. To unlock the item first, select it, choose File > Get Info (or press Command-I), then deselect the Locked tickbox. If you’re not logged in as an administrator, you may need to click the lock to unlock it then enter an administrator name and password (or use Touch ID or your Apple Watch).

Click the Trash icon in the Dock. In the window that appears, do one of the following:

  • Empty one item from the Trash: Control-click the item you want to delete, then choose Delete Immediately. In the warning message that appears, click Delete.
  • Empty all the Trash: Click the Empty button in the upper-right corner of the Finder window.

You can also click the Finder icon  in the Dock, then choose Finder > Empty Trash. In the warning message that appears, click Empty Trash.

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