How to selectively remove files or directories from Trash in the Mac

Sometimes you’d like to remove just a few files or directories from Trash, like a couple of 500MB downloads you know you won’t use again, and they’re just hogging space. Yet you want to leave the other files there just in case. Currently, Mac’s Trash only provides an “Empty Trash” option for the entire contents. (Windows, on the other hand, allows users to click on a file or folder and tap the Delete key to remove it. Nice!) Here is how you can selectively delete files and directories from the Mac Trash bin.

1. Open the Terminal (click on the Terminal icon on the dock, or click on the magnifying glass icon at upper right and type Terminal in the search box).

2. Open the Trash bin.

3. Position both windows side by side.

4. In Terminal, type rm and a space following:


5. From the Trash window, drag the file or directory to be deleted onto the Terminal window. The file path appears in the Terminal after “rm “:

rm /Users/Steve/.Trash/filenameOrFoldername

6. Hit the Return key to execute the command. File disappears from the Trash window.

7. You can actually keep dragging file after file to the Terminal window, one right after the other, and hitting Return will remove all of them. So you don’t need to type rm for each file.

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