Check tutorial of How to Use “Secure Empty Trash” Equivalent in OS X El Capitan
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Many Mac users have noticed the Secure Empty Trash feature was removed in OS X El Capitan (10.11 or later), which is why the feature was in fact because it didn’t always work, but more on that later. First, let’s see how you can run the equivalent of “Secure Empty Trash” on any Mac with OS X 10.11 or higher.
For those with a knowledgeable command line background, you will likely recognize this alternative approach to secure file deletion as using the srm command, which performs a secure deletion from the command line in OS X and linux.
This is for advanced users with a thorough understanding of the command line, and those who understand the risks associated with using the srm command, which is completely ruthless and irreversible in permanently deleting files. If you delete a file or folder with this command, it will be gone for good, you will never get it back unless you back it up elsewhere.up had made. Do not use this command if you are unfamiliar with file paths and the command line in general.
How to Run the equivalent of “Secure Empty Trash” in OS X El Capitan (10.11. +)
This requires the use of the Mac command line and a very powerful, secure delete command, this is irreversible.
- Find the files you want to safely delete in OS X Finder
- Hit Command + Spacebar to open Spotlight, type “Terminal” and hit the Return key to launch the Terminal application
- Type the following syntax exactly, making sure to add a space after the flag:
- To delete a file:
- To delete an entire directory:
Once you hit the return key there is no going back, this is really irreversible. The deleted files are overwritten 35 times, which is five times higher than the US Department of Defense standard for securely erasing data. In others words, your file or folder that you have safely deleted is gone forever.
If you are proficient with the command line, you can always skip drag and drop and use the following syntax to point to the correct path:
srm -v /path/to/file/to/securely/delete/example.png
You can omit the -v flag if you want, but the extended mode gives you a nice progress indicator.
Those who want to know a little more about the safe removal srm command en how to Forced deletion of a file can also be done here in our detailed walkthrough.
The video below demonstrates how srm coincides with the Finder using drag and drop to print the full file path in Terminal:
While this is basically the equivalent of using what used to be the Secure Empty Trash feature on the Mac, it is clearly more complex and utterly brutal, which is why it’s really only suitable for advanced users with enough command line experience.
Why has “Secure Empty Trash” been removed from OS X El Capitan?
This is the next obvious question, why did Apple remove the Secure Empty Trash feature of Mac OS X in new releases? The short answer why the safe removal feature was outdated, as Secure Empty Trash did not work reliably on some users with certain hardware. This is referenced in the security notes for OS X El Capitan, here as CVE-2020-5901 if you are interested, and repeated below:
Available for: Mac OS X v10.6.8 and above
Consequences: the ‘Safe Empty Trash’ feature files placed in the recycle bin may not be safely deleted Description: An issue existed in ensuring safe deletion of recycle bin files on some systems, such as those with flash storage. This issue was addressed by removing the “Safe Empty Recycle Bin” option.
It makes sense not to feature that didn’t work reliably, right?
Of course, privacy enthusiasts and those in need of file protection can be frustrated with it feature is no longer bundled in OS X, but with alternatives and a few other techniques you can still secure data. If you used Secure Empty Trash to prevent files from being retrieved from a snooper, a better option might be to enable FileVault disk encryption on the Mac and keep a strong password with the lock screen enabled to prevent unauthorized access to the computer in the Mac. generally preventable. Combining FileVault, strong passwords, the aforementioned srm command, and even securely formatting an entire drive when warranted should be more than enough to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive files and data.
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