That’s the time honored tried and true method and it works. Mostly. You see, when a file is deleted from the Mac via the Trash it really isn’t deleted. It’s still there but hidden and it may be awhile before your Mac overwrites the file with something else. What if you really want to delete a file forever?
Digital Paper Shredder
Prior to OS X El Capitan, Apple built into OS X an option to Secure Empty Trash which would overwrite a trashed file a number of times making it very difficult to retrieve. Secure Empty Trash is gone in OS X El Capitan, thanks to the prevalence of SSD storage vs. older hard disk drives.
So, how do you securely delete unwanted files? There’s a command line option using Terminal.app but that’s as geeky as a Mac user can get and fraught with a bit of period if you’re not CLI savvy. Or, just use Paper Shredder, a Mac utility which truly shreds the hell out of a digital file using 1-pass, 7 pass, or even 35-pass Department of Defense compliant Guttman secure delete algorithms.
Drag. Drop. Shred.
The visuals are nice, too, and so is the shredding sound (when it works). You’ll see the files feed into the onscreen shredder while you do other work. Shredding a number of files and folders of files with 35-pass DoD compliant tools takes a few seconds.
Options include the ability to overwrite with zero after files are deleted (making it even more securely deleted). Interestingly, there’s an Emergency Stop button to use if you should change your mind after starting the shredding (but it doesn’t work once the shredding is done, so caveat emptor applies).
One additional feature I like about Paper Shredder is the Dock only mode. Instead of opening up the app each time you want to shred files, just drag and drop a folder of files to the Paper Shredder Dock icon and do it that way.
Speaking of caveat emptor, there are a couple of issues with what arguably is the easiest and safest way to dispose of files. First, the price. There’s no try-before-you-buy option. Second, the app was introduced more than five years ago and remains at version 1.0. That tells me the app is either, 1) a fabulously developed utility which needs no improvement, or, 2) the app is abandonware, which I suspect, even though it works fine.
The app developer’s website indicates Paper Shredder is ‘coming soon.’ Worse, the developer’s support group on GetSatisfaction indicates there is much dissatisfaction with many of the apps. Apple should curate apps from the Mac App Store which haven’t been updated and for which the developer no longer seems to be available.
Again, caveat emptor.