How to Clear Out Unwanted Files on MacBook

by Sophie Southern

MacBooks have a reputation for being user-friendly and stable, which makes it easy to accumulate tons of files, folders and applications. Because your MacBook won't begin to act sluggish until your hard drive is almost full, you can go months without noticing that you need to do a serious cleanup. The traditional way to clear out unwanted files and folders on the MacBook is to empty your Trash, but you can also perform a "Secure Empty Trash" to completely erase those unwanted files forever.

Click the Finder icon in your Dock to open a new Finder window and locate the files you want to remove from your MacBook.

Drag and drop the files into your Trash. To drag and drop, click a file and, still holding your mouse, move it to your Trash icon. Release the mouse when the file is directly over the icon to drop it in your Trash. You can also select "File" from your MacBook's top menu bar, then select "Move to Trash."

Click your Trash icon and hold it until the Options menu pops up. Select "Empty Trash." Confirm that you want to empty your Trash when prompted by the Finder.

Select "File" from the top menu bar, then select "Secure Empty Trash" to permanently empty your Trash. If you are using Mac OS X v10.6, also known as "Snow Leopard," performing the Secure Empty Trash function will remove the "Put Back" option to recover deleted files. The Secure Empty Trash function can take anywhere from several minutes to up to an hour, depending on the last time you performed the function and how many files are in your Trash.


  • check You can also use a keyboard shortcut to move items to your Trash. Select a file, then hold the "Command" key and the "Delete" key at the same time.
  • check You can use the "Shift" key to select multiple files in a row or the "Command" key to select non-consecutive files, and drag them to your Trash all at once.

About the Author

Sophie Southern has been a freelance writer since 2004. Her writing has been featured in "JPG" magazine and on Southern holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the School of Visual Arts.