The.Inbox #3 - Deleting files from a thumb drive on Mac OS X?

The answer to this question may seem obvious, but too many people have asked me this question (including fellow members from the crew) that I think it’s time to address it.


How do you recover the disk space on external drive after deleting files from it on a mac? I noticed that even after deleting the files, the remaining space does not change!

PLUS! Bonus question: How do I delete a file on Mac OS X using just my keyboard like I can on Windows?


The short answer is this: Empty your recycling *COUGH*, I meant, TRASH bin!

Unlike Windows, deleting files from an external drive doesn’t automatically delete the file permanently, but sends it into the trash bin. In fact, this “Trash bin” for that very file you deleted from the external drive resides on the drive itself! Until you empty your trash, the file isn’t actually gone from your drive, even after you eject it.

Give it a try! Try deleting a file from a thumb drive by dragging it into the trash. Check the trash, and you’ll see that the file is still there. Now eject the drive, and check the trash. It’s gone! Now plug the thumb drive back in and check the trash again. It’s back! Like Magic!

Jokes aside, just remember to empty the trash once you’re very sure you don’t want that file any more before you eject that drive, and you’ll get your space back. See? Mr Steve Jobs wants to make sure you don’t lose your file unnecessarily!


Do note, however, that this does not apply to networked drives. When you delete a file from a networked drive, it is permanent and doesn’t go to the trash bin. In fact, it should warn you.

And now a bonus tip! To delete a file on Mac OS X using your keyboard like you do on Windows (by pressing the “delete” key), simply press “Command+Backspace” on your mac’s keyboard. The “Command” key I’m refering to is the one on both sides of the space bar. Now you know!

Got a question to ask, or a better answer to give? Send them into!

  • Hello Daniel,

    many thanks for the bonus tip. i´m also was wondering why the del.-button don´t work like the one on windows-systems.


Daniel Tsou is our fabulous host, who decides mostly what we talk about and basically calls the shots, Yes, he does. I, writer of this bio on Mr Tsou is very much afraid that by commiting this post to words, I will be dragged off in the night by a black Truck, or a Segway more like. Other than that, Daniel is tall, lived for a period of time in Venezuela and Spain, and is enthusiastic for all things tech.
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