4 Useful Trash Keyboard Shortcuts Every Mac User Should Know (Plus, 7 Bonus Trash Tips)

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Trash is one of those overlooked aspects of Mac OS X that you probably don’t think about much, most of us just drag a file into it, empty the trash to delete a document and up disk space, and that’s about it. That’s fine, but there are also a handful of really useful keyboard shortcuts pertaining to Trash on the Mac, and if you spend some time in the Mac file system, they’re worth learning.

These keystrokes must have something selected in the Finder to work, be it a single file, folder, or entire group of documents. We’ll cover four useful Mac Recycle Bin shortcuts, as well as some other useful Recycle Bin tips…

1: Send an item directly to the trash

  • Command + Delete with a selected file or folder, it is immediately sent to the trash in Mac OS X.

2: Return items from the trash to the original location

  • Command + Delete with something currently selected in the trash bin, it will revert to its original location in the file system. You can also access this by right-clicking an item and choosing ‘Restore’

3: Empty Trash

  • Shift + Command + Delete will empty the trash immediately. This is the safer approach since it brings up the warning dialog telling you that the action is permanent.

4: Force empty trash – without warning

  • Shift + Option + Command + Delete will empty the trash immediately without any warnings, no matter what’s in the trash.

Bonus Tips for the trash can

  • You can delete a specific file from the recycle bin without emptying the entire file
  • You probably know that you can’t open files from the recycle bin, but that doesn’t mean you can’t preview them. If you want to examine a file in the trash without moving it, you can use Quick Look to preview a file in the trash
  • Don’t want a file in the trash, but can’t remember where it was originally? Use the “Put back” feature to undo moving a file to the Trash on Mac
  • You can turn off Empty Trash sound effects on Mac if you don’t find them useful
  • You can also empty a recycle bin once or set it as the default by changing the Advanced Finder preferences, found under the Finder menu
  • For the nostalgic, a trash can icon can be placed on the desktop like in the good old days of System 9 and before that by using symbolic links
  • Forcefully empty the Recycle Bin when a file is locked or in use by going to the command line, this allows you to ignore any warning you encounter when trying to delete the Recycle Bin, even if a file is locked or in use, but be warned as there is no return!

Do you have any other useful tips or tricks for managing trash on a Mac? Maybe you know of some other great keyboard shortcuts for using Mac Trash? Share with us in the comments below!

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