Mac Option Key tip #08: Option-Empty Trash

Updated April 20th, 2020.

(Eighth in a series.)

Ever try to empty the Trash and get a message like this? Of course you have.

Are you sure you want to empty the trash? dialog box
Are you sure you want to empty the trash?

Then you click “Empty Trash” (or hit Enter on the keyboard), and then you might get this message too:

Locked items... another dialog box
Locked items… another dialog box

Most likely you will click “Remove All Items” and then– finally– the trash empties. Yay.

Skip all of this trouble by holding down the Option key when you choose “Empty Trash” from the Finder’s “Finder” menu. Then it’s a one-stepper. No messages, just a satisfying whooshy-crumply sound. Try it!

Note: when you don’t hold the Option key, the Finder’s Finder menu looks like this:

Finder's Empty Trash menu item
Finder’s Empty Trash menu item– keyboard shortcut Command-Shift-Delete

Hold the Option key and it looks like this:

Finder empty trash menu with Option key held down
Finder empty trash menu with Option key held down– — keyboard shortcut Command-OPTION-Shift-Delete

It looks just a little different when you hold the Option key, and as it turns out it makes a big difference.

Note: You noticed of course that without the Option key, the menu says “Empty Trash…” but with the Option key the ellipsis is gone. The menu now reads simply “Empty Trash” (no dots). Those three little dots in the menus actually mean something, namely that you are going to get a dialog box when you choose that item. Dialog boxes almost always have a “Cancel” button in them, and that gives you a chance to bail out without doing anything. This goes for every menu item with three little dots– every menu item in every menu in every program. Watch for it and see. Three dots equals “dialog box coming up.” Really.

And that’s 8.

Click here to see all of my blog posts involving the Option key. Save yourself time and effort with the tips in those posts! Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.

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