How can I securely delete selected files so they can’t be recovered, but without the full format of the external HDD? Is this even possible?

I’m using Mac OS.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Overwriting hard drive to securely delete a file? Aug 25, 2022 at 20:43
  • 1
    Do you want to delete all files or a selection? Why do you not want to do a full format?
    – schroeder
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:44
  • @UndercoverDog No,I have Mac OS and can’t use Windows applications for selective deletion Aug 25, 2022 at 20:50
  • While the specific programs in that question are Windows-based, the answer ends up being the same: use a file shredder program.
    – schroeder
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:53
  • @schroeder If I use file schredder for macOS,will I get same secure deletion as full format gives? Aug 25, 2022 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


Open the Finder menu Select "Secure Empty Trash"?

Other methods -

  • Encrypt the drive.
  • Write random data to fill the entire empty space, which will overwrite the deleted files, after they are emptied from trash.
  • Use a tool specifically for securely deleting files. (There are several, though I'm not going to make a "recommendation" since I've not used them. For Windows, "Eraser" from Heidisoft has been good.)

Generally speaking though, if you know you need to securely delete files, it is best to encrypt the drive completely.

Formatting the drive will NOT prevent recovery of deleted files, unless you do a "full" format, and it writes to every sector. Even then, it's not a guarantee. Formatting generally just changes the parts of the drive that contain the formatting information, not the information which is stored on the drive by the user.

  • Presumably "Secure Empty Trash" only scrubs files that were actually moved to the trash, as opposed to files that were deleted in a way bypassing the trash (e.g. via the rm shell command, invoking the unlink syscall, Option+Cmd+Delete in some Finder versions, etc.)? Also, while FileVault does encrypt the "free" space, not all disk encryption tools do this by default (encrypting only the "used" space is faster, and uses up less of an SSD's lifespan).
    – CBHacking
    Aug 27, 2022 at 8:18

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