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Mac hints and tips

Tips index

Securely delete files (10.4/5)

When you send a file to the Trash or drag and drop a file or folder on the Trash icon, it is moved to the Trash folder (actually there is more than one and each user account has a .Trash folder in their Home folder). When you empty the Trash (hold down Ctrl as you click it), the files are deleted.

You would think that deleting a file would completely remove all traces of it, but it doesn't and the operating system simply marks the space that the file occupies as free. When new files are created or saved, OS X stores them in the free space on the disk, but there is lots of free space on most disks and so the bit that the file you deleted may not be used again for quite some time.

This means that the data is still there on the disk and someone with the right tools could actually recover it. OS X securely delete TrashIf the files contain personal or sensitive information that you wouldn't want other people to see, you should securely delete the file and not simply empty the Trash.

Click the desktop to make sure that Finder is selected and then choose Preferences on the Finder menu. Select the Advanced tab and tick the box labelled Empty Trash securely.

Now whenever you empty the Trash folder all the files wil be overwritten with junk data before they are deleted.

This means that even if someone recovers the deleted files, all they will see is junk and not the real data. It takes a bit longer to securely empty the Trash, but the extra seconds it takes is well worth it.

Switch finder views (10.4/5)

We tend to just use Finder in its default configuration and we usually don't give it a second thought. However, it can be customised in many ways and with a few tweaks it might suite you better. For example, there are many different views, such as with a toolbar or without, with button captions or without, compact or expanded mode and so on.

To cycle through all the different views, hold down the Command key (with the Apple logo on), and click the button in the top right corner of the Finder window. There are six different views, so keep clicking to cycle though them all and stop at the one that suites you best.

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