When you delete a file or directory on your Mac, it goes to the Trash without using the Option + Command + Delete keyboard shortcut. While it’s in the Trash, it remains there as long as you don’t delete it or empty the Trash on your Mac. As a result, if you need the file again or accidentally delete it, you have the option to restore the file or put it back in its original directory.

automatically empty trash on mac

Although it’s a nice feature to have, it can quickly fill up your Trash and end up hogging a lot of your disk space. And so, if you’re on a Mac with the base storage configuration, this will probably not be as useful, as you’d need to empty your Trash regularly yourself.

Fortunately, Apple makes it really easy to automate emptying Trash on Mac. Here’s a guide detailing the steps to do this on your Mac.

Automatically Emptying Trash on Mac

Starting with macOS Sierra, Apple has included an auto-delete option that automatically clears the Trash after 30 days. So if you end up populating your Trash and forget to empty it manually, having this option will automatically clear it and clear up disk space.

However, the option is disabled by default, and you need to enable it yourself, should you wish to have your Trash automatically emptied after 30 days.

Steps to Automatically Empty Trash On Mac

The only requirement to automate emptying the Trash on your Mac is to have your Mac running on at least macOS Sierra, and most likely, you’re already using a version of macOS higher than Sierra.

With that out of the way, follow these steps to enable the auto-delete Trash option on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click on Finder in the menu bar and select Preferences. Alternatively, press the Command + , shortcut to bring it up.
    automatically empty trash on mac
  3. In the Finder Preferences window, click on the Advanced tab.
  4. Look for the Remove items from the Trash after 30 days option and check off the checkbox beside it.

    automatically empty trash on mac

Once you do that, your Mac will now automatically delete any directories or files you send to Trash after 30 days.

Simplify Emptying Trash on Mac

Getting rid of the Trash’s content keeps your Mac clean and clutter-free. It also frees up storage space, which can be valuable to you if you’re using a base configuration Mac, and saves you the hassle of having to empty the Trash manually yourself. However, note that with this option enabled, you need to check the Trash every once in a while to avoid getting something important deleted from your Mac’s Trash.

FAQs About Emptying Mac Trash

When your Mac doesn't let you empty the Trash, it's often because that file or directory is probably open or being accessed by some other application on your Mac. In the case of the former, the best solution is to close the app or directory, whereas, with the latter, you may need to force quit the app from the Activity Monitor.

To do this, open Activity Monitor, look for the process name/app name that's utilizing the file/directory you want to delete, and tap on the close (X) icon on the top to force quit it. Once that's done, try clearing the Trash again.

Yes, when you empty your Mac's Trash, all files and directories in there will be permanently deleted.

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