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Empty Trash is a menu command in the Special menu of the Macintosh system software and Mac OS from System 1 through to Mac OS 9.2.2. Under Mac OS X, it is relocated to the Finder menu.

Warning: This menu command can be destructive and can result in data loss if used improperly.

When the user chooses Empty Trash, the Trash can either be immediately emptied (if the "Show warning before emptying the Trash" is checked in the Get Info window for the Trash), or a confirmation dialog box can be displayed, which shows the number of items being deleted and the space it is taking up.

The Trash will not empty under any of these circumstances:

  • If there are any locked items in the Trash (remove them from the Trash and unlock them using Get Info where applicable)
  • If any items are in use

The Trash will not empty completely if the user clicks the Stop button while a significant number of items are being deleted.

Keyboard Shortcut[]

Whilst in finder, press Command, Shift & Backspace to empty the trash.


Trash is used on most English-speaking versions of the Macintosh system and Mac OS, while Rubbish was used early in the Australian version and Wastebasket in the UK. Beginning with Mac OS X, the naming has been standardized: all English-speaking versions now use Trash.

See also[]

  • Secure Empty Trash