Home  >  Mac data recovery  >  How to Delete and Undelete a File on Mac?

How to Delete and Undelete a File on Mac?

Vishal  | Updated on December 10, 2020 | Mac data recovery   | 12 Comments   | 5 min read

Deleting a file on Mac is sometimes necessary to clean up unnecessary files or redundant copies of a file so that you can free up some space on your Mac storage, especially if your SSD is small or running out of space.

A folder or directory is treated as a file and can be deleted just like a file, except in the particular case where it needs to be removed recursively, such as in Terminal.

Methods to Delete a File on Mac Temporarily

Delete a file on Mac

You can temporarily delete a file on Mac by using any one of the following methods:

  1. Drag & Drop – Select the file(s), then drag and drop it to the Trash icon present on Dock.
  2. Using Mouse – Right-click the file, and from the shortcut menu, select Move to Trash. Or else, select the file, click the File menu, and choose Move to Trash.
  3. Using Keyboards – Select the file and press Command and Delete keys together from the keyboard.

Note: the word ‘temporarily’ here refers that the files have been moved to the trash folder and not yet deleted permanently from Mac.

Methods to Undelete a File on Mac That Is Stored in Trash

undelete trash on mac

Now, let’s learn how to reverse the operation of deleting the files from Mac.

  1. Drag & Drop – Open Trash, then drag and drop the deleted file to Desktop or the required location by using Finder.
  2. Using Mouse – Open Trash, right-click the deleted file and select Put Back to restore it.
  3. Using Keyboards – Press Command and Z keys immediately after deletion to undo the delete operation. However, this command with not be able to undelete the files from Trash in case you had performed any other task after moving them to trash.

Methods to Permanently Delete a Single File on Mac

delete single file on Mac

Above, we learned how to delete a file temporarily on macOS. However, follow any of the below various methods if you want to remove unwanted files and folders from the Mac permanently. Be cautious that data once deleted permanently can’t be recovered without the help of backup or an undelete software utility for Mac:

Suppose you have a file on the Desktop named John.jpg

  1. Select the John.jpg file, click the File menu, hold the Option key, and select Delete Immediately. Press Delete on the dialog window to delete the file permanently bypassing the Trash.
  2. Select the John.jpg file and press Option, Command, and Delete keys together. Press Delete on the dialog window to permanently delete the file without moving it to the Trash.
  3. On the Terminal window, type rm then drag and drop the file to the command line to add its path. Press the Enter key to delete the file from your Mac permanently.
  4. On the Terminal window, type rm -rf then drag and drop the folder to the command line to add its path. Hit Enter to remove the folder from your Mac permanently.

Methods to Permanently Delete Bulk Files by Emptying the Trash

  1. Right-click Trash, then from the shortcut menu, select Empty Trash. Click Empty Trash on the dialog window to erase all the items present inside the Trash.
  2. Press Shift, Command, and Delete keys together. Click Empty Trash on the dialog window to empty the Trash.
  3. Press Option, Shift, Command, and Delete keys together to empty the Trash without the confirmation dialog.

This will result in permanent deletion of the files present in trash.

Hopefully, our new Mac users are now aware of deleting files and folders from a macOS conveniently.

As a part of a data recovery organization, I will like to further share methods which will help you undelete your files and folders. Of course, you will want to undelete the files deleted mistakenly. Right?

Methods to Undelete a File on Mac That Is Not Available in Trash

Method 1: By Using Time Machine
  1. Make sure your Time Machine backup drive is connected to your Mac.
  2. Go to Finder, and from the left pane, select the location where the file got deleted.
  3. From the menu bar, go to Time Machine icon > Enter Time Machine.
  4. In the Time Machine window, use the timeline, up/down arrow, or the search box to find your deleted file.
  5. Select the deleted file and press Space Bar to preview.
  6. Keeping the file selected, click Restore.
Method 2: By Using an Undelete Recovery Software for Mac
  • Download, install the software from the below:
  • On the Select What To Recover screen, specify the type of file that you have deleted (for instance, if the file was a video, so toggle on video) then click Next.
Stellar Data Recovery for Premium
  • On the Select Location screen, select the drive where the file was located.
Premium - Select Location
  • Then click Scan
  • When the scan is over, preview the file to ascertain its integrity.
  • Click Recover button Note: *The trial version prompts you to activate the Stellar Data Recovery Premium for Mac. Specify the save destination (which must be different from the location where the file got deleted to avoid overwriting and corruption) then click Save.
  • When the software completes the recovery task, go to the specified save destination to view the recovered file.

Why Choose Mac Data Recovery Premium as your Undelete Software?

5 key features can explain this best:

  1. Data Recovery from all logical scenarios
  2. Option to create an image file for bad media
  3. Option to clone a failing Mac start-up disk
  4. Repairs corrupt photos on Mac
  5. Repairs damaged videos

In short, Stellar Data Recovery Premium for Mac is a powerful data recovery and software that can also repair your corrupt photos and videos.


The blog shared various methods to delete a file, where the removed file is stored temporarily in the Trash. It also shared the methods for deleting files on Mac permanently.

In case if the file was deleted by mistake, try out the simple methods on how to undelete your file from Mac as outlined in this blog post.

First off, look for your deleted file from Trash and undelete it from there. In case if the file is not located in the Trash, then use Time Machine backup drive to find and restore the deleted item.

In the absence of up-to-date backup, the only way to undelete the deleted file is to employ an undelete software for Mac.

  1. Ronald Bottom December 30, 2019
    • Vishal December 30, 2019
  2. Darryl Santiago October 30, 2019
    • Vishal October 31, 2019
  3. Michelle October 30, 2019
    • Vishal October 31, 2019
  4. Amanda September 24, 2019
    • Vishal September 25, 2019
  5. Melisa Rice August 23, 2019
    • Vishal August 27, 2019
  6. Theodora M. Moore May 21, 2019
    • Vishal May 23, 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.