The Trash

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The Trash

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2.6. The Trash No single element of the Macintosh interface is as recognizable or famous as the Trash can, which now appears at the end of the Dock.

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  1. 2.6. The Trash No single element of the Macintosh interface is as recognizable or famous as the Trash can, which now appears at the end of the Dock. You can discard almost any icon by dragging it onto the Trash icon (actually a wastebasket, not a trash can, but let's not quibble). When the tip of your arrow cursor touches the Trash icon, the little wastebasket turns black. When you release the mouse, you're well on your way to discarding whatever it was you dragged. As a convenience, Mac OS X even replaces the empty-wastebasket icon with a wastebasket-filled-with crumpled-up-papers icon, to let you know there's something in there. Tip: Learn the keyboard alternative to dragging something to the Trash: Highlight the icon, and then press -Delete. This technique is not only far faster than dragging, but requires far less precision, especially if you have a large screen. Mac OS X does all the Trash-targeting for you. 2.6.1. Rescuing Files and Folders from the Trash File and folder icons sit in the Trash forever—or until you choose Finder Empty Trash, whichever comes first. If you haven't yet emptied the Trash, you can open its window by clicking the wastebasket icon once. Now you can review its contents: icons that you've placed on the waiting list for extinction. If you change your mind, you can rescue any of these items by dragging them out of the Trash window. Tip: If dragging something to the Trash was the last thing you did, you can press - Z—the keyboard shortcut of the Edit Undo command. This not only removes it from the Trash, but also returns it to the folder from which it came. This trick works even if the Trash window isn't open. 2.6.2. Emptying the Trash I: Quick and Easy
  2. If you're confident that the items in the Trash window are worth deleting, use any of these three options: • Choose Finder Empty Trash. • Press Shift- -Delete. Or, if you'd just as soon not bother with the "Are you sure?" message, throw the Option key in there, too. • Control-click the wastebasket icon (or right-click it, or just click it and hold the mouse button down for a moment); choose Empty Trash from the shortcut menu. Tip: This last method has two advantages. First, the Mac doesn't bother asking "Are you sure?" (If you're clicking right on the Trash and choosing Empty Trash from the pop-up menu, it's pretty darned obvious you are sure.) Second, this method nukes any locked files without making you unlock them first. If you use either of the first two methods, the Macintosh asks you to confirm your decision. Click OK. (Figure 2-11 shows both this message and the secret for turning it off forever.) Either way, Mac OS X now deletes those files from your hard drive. 2.6.3. Emptying the Trash II: Secure and Forever When you empty the Trash as described above, each Trashed icon sure looks like it disappears. The truth is, though, that the data in each file is still on the hard drive. Yes, the space occupied by the dearly departed is now marked with an internal "This space available" message, and in time, new files that you save may overwrite that spot. But in the meantime, some future eBay buyer of your Mac—or, more imminently, a savvy family member or office mate—could use a program like Norton Utilities to resurrect those deleted files. (In more dire cases, companies like can use sophisticated clean-room techniques to recover crucial information—for several hundred dollars, of course.) That notion doesn't sit well with certain groups, like government agencies, international spies, and the paranoid. As far as they're concerned, deleting a file should really , really delete it, irrevocably, irretrievably, and forever. Mac OS X has a command, therefore, called Secure Empty Trash. When you choose this command from the Finder menu, the Mac doesn't just obliterate the parking spaces around the dead file. It actually records new information over the old—random 0's and 1's. Pure static gibberish.
  3. The process takes longer than the normal Empty Trash command, of course. But when it absolutely, positively has to be gone from this earth for good (and you're absolutely, positively sure you'll never need that file again), Secure Empty Trash is secure indeed. 2.6.4. Locked Files: The Next Generation By highlighting a file or folder, choosing File Get Info, and turning on the Locked checkbox, you protect that file or folder from accidental deletion (see Figure 2-11 at bottom). A little padlock icon appears on the corner of the full-size icon, also shown in Figure 2-11. Figure 2-11. Top: Your last warning. Mac OS X doesn't tell you how many items are in the Trash or how much disk space they take up. If you'd rather not be interrupted for confirmation every time you empty the Trash, you can suppress this message permanently. To do that, choose File Preferences, click Advanced, and turn off "Show warning before emptying the Trash." Bottom: The Get Info window for a locked file. Locking a file in this way isn't military level security by any stretch–any passing evildoer can unlock the file in the same way. But it does trigger an "operation cannot be completed" warning when you try to put it into the Trash–or indeed when you try to drag it into any other folder–providing at least one layer of protection against mistakes. Mac OS X doesn't even let you put a locked icon into the Trash—or any other folder. You can't put the icon of an open program into the Trash, either. If something that's already in the Trash turns out to be locked, click and hold on the Trash itself. Now, when you choose Empty Trash from its shortcut menu, Mac OS X empties the Trash without warnings, locked files and all. Of course, the other alternative is to unlock what's in the Trash. Fortunately, there's a quick way to do so. Click the Trash icon to open its window, then highlight the icons you want to unlock (or choose Edit Select All). Now press Option- -I (or press Option as you choose File Show Inspector). Turn off the Locked checkbox in the resulting Info window. (Yes, you can lock or unlock a
  4. mass of files at once.) Now you can send the newly unprotected files to data heaven without any fancy tricks. (If you're having trouble emptying the Trash, see Chapter 17 for some helpful Unix commands.)  
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