El Capitan Secure Empty Trash

This is no big deal I guess, but I have used the “Secure Empty Trash” menu command forever. However, as some people have astutely pointed out, it is not present any longer in El Captian! Really?! Why would Apple remove such a useful command from the Mac OS?


The Problem

Here is the reasoning that I have discovered for Apple removing this command. Secure Empty Trash is supposed to securly remove an item from the Trash, remove it so no one can see it anymore. I think the idea was that the OS would write over that spot on the HD. Apparently though, this was not possible on some Mac systems. So, Apple could not guarantee that the file(s) was being totally removed. That led them to deleting the Secure Emtpy Trash command. So now when you empty the Trash in El Capitan only this command is available to you:

Yep, it just is “Empty Trash”. This is a real bummer right. Especially since I do not use the Secure Empty Trash command to “securely” get rid of files. I use it in the following manner. You throw out a file and then try to delelte it and the OS says the file is in use, or it says it cannot be deleted, or it just does not delete it! You can use the tried and true Option ⌥ key Empty Trash trick, but sometimes even that will not work, especially if the system thinks the file is still in use. So, I have always used Secure Empty Trash which seems to work everytime. Not to erase the file securely, don’t really need that capability, but to just get the Trash to empty!

The Solution

Some people have posted diffierent ways to use the Terminal application to do the same thing. That is fine and dandy, but lets face it, not that many people (probably most of you) are going to use the Terminal to resolve this issue. Just a note, I am currently using OS X El Capitan 10.11.1 (beta) and the Secure Emtpy Trash command ain’t there. Don’t think Apple is going to put it back. But, there are some partial solutions besides using the Terminal.

There are several utility applications on the Mac that let you use Secure Empty Trash. Cocktail is one, CCleaner, MacPilot, CleanMyMac 3, etc. If you have one of these applications you are good to go. I know, it is a bit convoluted to bootup an app for just this purpose, but if it is important enough to you then it may be worth your while.

My solution to this is my good old Finder replacement application Path Finder from CocoaTech Software. Path Finder works quite well in El Capitan. It still has it’s own Secure Emtpy Trash command:

So, I can still use it to remove stubborn files from the Trash. That makes me very happy.


I realize this is not a great solution, but perhaps some other developer will come out with an Extension or tiny app to restore this function. Until that time it is either an app like Path Finder or some Mac OS utility app to the rescue. Not a great solution, but better than nothing.