Always looking to simplify and dumb down stuff for its users, Apple sometimes goes too far and oversimplifies stuff leaving an average user frustrated. Mac OSX automatically assumes that you would not need a particular feature because; I don’t know umm it doesn’t look good on the menu perhaps!

To worsen matters, if you are coming from Windows you might be surprised to find out that subtle features that you overlooked and took for granted are non-existent in Mac OSX.

This post today will focus on one of the annoyances that Apple has left users to deal with. You can send an individual file or a collection of files and folders to trash but you cannot simply delete them individually from the trash bin. The only option available is to empty the whole trash bin. On the other hand this is not such a big deal in windows.

The dilemma

You want to delete particular file(s) from trash but not all of them.

So what is the workaround?

The Logical BS way

Why would you want to do that? Make a folder on your desktop to collect the files you want to consider deleting and them move the ones you actually want to delete to trash and empty it.

The way it should be

Thankfully though Apple left with “Automator”

Automator is an application developed by Apple for OS X that implements point-and-click (or drag-and-drop) creation of workflows for automating repetitive tasks into batches for quicker alteration, thus saving time and effort over human intervention to manually change each file separately. Automator enables the repetition of tasks across a wide variety of programs, including the Finder, the Safari web browser, iCal, Address Book and others. It can also work with third-party applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop or Pixelmator. Automator was first released with Mac OS X Tiger (10.4).

With Automator we can write our own service that lets us delete individual files from finder or the recycle bin just by right clicking on the file and nothing else!

Note: If you delete a file from finder using this method it will be permanently deleted.

So lets begin:

Open automator. (You could use the launch pad or press command space to open spotlight and search for automator)

How to individually delete a file on OSX

Choose Service

Navigate to utility library and drag “Run shell script” onto the pane on the right to create a workflow. Change “Services receives selected” to files and folders
Change in from any application to finder
And lastly, change pass input to “as arguments” from “stdin”
Replace the text “echo” to “rm”
Save the service. You can name it to describe your service. For our service, I named it “Permanently Delete file” so that is can identify it easily.

Now that we are all set lets test it out! Use the finder to find any file you wish to permanently delete. Right-click and choose “Permanently Delete file”. If everything worked correctly the file should disappear!

permanently delete file in osx

How to delete a service you previously created:

This should come handy should you decide to delete a service as there is no option in Automator to delete a service.

Open finder
Press command shift G
Type “~/library” (without quotes

how to find hidden library in lion

Find the services folder. In that folder delete the service you created earlier.

Let us know if this helped you!