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Trash Can

Another important resident of the Dock is the Trash (see Figure 3.8). The Trash is where you drag files, folders, or applications when you want to delete them from your computer. Figure 3.8 shows the Trash when empty. Figure 3.9 shows the Trash filled with one or more files.

Figure 3.8. This Trash can is empty.

Figure 3.9. The Trash contains items, and the files are ready to be permanently deleted.

The Trash is also used for ejecting disks, CDs, or DVDs. (It is also used to unmount external hard drives that you may attach to your computer for extra storage.) To allay user fears that this might hurt the contents of the item being ejected, Mac OS X changes the Trash icon into the Eject symbol when you drag a disk icon to it, as shown in Figure 3.10.

Figure 3.10. Ejecting a disk.

You don't have to use the Trash when ejecting disks. An Eject icon appears in the sidebar of the Finder window next to any discs or drives to which it can be applied. Ctrl-clicking a mounted volume opens a contextual menu with an Eject option. Alternatively, you can highlight the disk to remove and choose File, Eject (Command-E) from the Finder's menu. (Some models of the Macintosh's keyboard also include an Eject key bearing the same eject symbol shown in Figure 3.10.)

Deleting Files

To get rid of unwanted files, simply follow these steps:

Click and drag a program's icon onto the trash can icon, which is highlighted as soon as the icon is brought atop it. See Figure 3.11 for the effect.

Figure 3.11. When you release the mouse, the file is placed inside the Trash can.

Choose Empty Trash from the Finder's application menu, which opens the request for confirmation, as shown in Figure 3.12.

Figure 3.12. Do you really want to delete the files in the Trash?

When you click and hold the Trash icon, you see an Empty Trash command, which is a fast way to delete its contents. But be forewarned: There is no second chance, no warning. When you choose this command, there's no opportunity to change your mind.

When you click OK, the file is deleted.

The Trash works like a folder. If you re not sure what's inside, just double-click it to open a window displaying its contents. If you decide to keep something after all, click and drag that icon out of the Trash window onto the desktop.

Secure Empty Trash

The files you delete using the normal Empty Trash command are no longer available for use. However, special software exists for the purpose of recovering deleted files. If you want to ensure that your deleted files can't be recovered, choose File, Secure Empty Trash from the menu.

Secure Empty Trash works by deleting a file and then filling the space it occupied on a drive with meaningless data to obscure any traces of the file that may still be readable.

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