How to Trash and Put Back files


How to Trash and Put Back files
Mac Tip #433, 21 April 2010

Don’t need that file or folder any more? Put it in the Trash. Or maybe you put a file in the Trash but need to get it back. Here’s how. The methods essentially ‘mirror’ each other.

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6 ways to Trash files from the Finder

First select the unwanted files or folders in the Finder and then do one of the following:

Move to Trash (using Gear menu).

Move to Trash (using Gear menu).

  • Drag the selection into the Trash can in the Dock. When you drag something to the Trash: if it’s a file or folder it puts it in the Trash; if it’s a CD, DVD, thumb drive or external hard drive the Trashcan symbol changes to an Eject symbol (⏏) and the disc or drive is ejected or dismounted so you can remove it.
  • Press Command Delete (⌘ ⌫). The selection is sent to the Trash. Note: Delete on its own isn’t enough, you also need to use the Command (or Apple) key. Also note: the Forward Delete key (⌦) doesn’t work; you need the Delete key next to the + key at the top of the keyboard.
  • Control click (⌃ click or right click) on the selection and choose Move to Trash from the contextual menu that appears.
  • Choose Move to Trash from the File menu.
  • Choose Move to Trash from the Gear icon in the Toolbar in the Finder window.
  • Click the Delete icon on the Toolbar of a Finder window. If you don’t see that icon, Customise Toolbars, Mac Tip #299/25-July-2007 explains how to display and customise Toolbars.

Remove a file from the Trash

After you’ve Trashed a file you may find you want it back again. If you have done nothing else since moving the item to the Trash then try the Undo command — Command z or Edit Menu > Undo. That should Undo the Trash command and put the item back where it came from.

To open the Trash and see what’s in there, click on the Trash icon on the Dock. A Finder window opens and shows you what’s in the Trash.

To remove a file or folder from the Trash select it and drag it onto your Desktop or into any other open Finder window.

Put Back a file from the Trash

In Snow Leopard you may also find you are able to Put Back a selected file or folder. That moves it back into the folder it was in when you trashed it.

In my experiments I couldn’t ‘Put Back’ all files — the command only worked for some. But I often have temporary files from web servers and other unusual locations and don’t find that surprising.

To ‘Put Back’ a selected file or folder use the same techniques as for Trashing it. These techniques mirror those for Trashing a file — you don’t even need to hold down any additional special keys.

  • Press Command Delete (Apple or ⌘ ⌫). The selected item is sent back to the folder it came from. Note: Delete on its own isn’t enough, you also need to use the Command key. Also note: the Forward Delete key doesn’t work; you need the Delete key next to the + key at the top of the keyboard.
  • Control click (⌃ click or right click) on the selection and choose Put Back from the contextual menu that appears.
  • Choose Put Back from the File menu.
  • Choose Put Back from the Gear icon in the Toolbar in the Finder window.
  • Click the Delete icon on the Toolbar of a Finder window. Even though it displays a Delete symbol it will ‘Put Back’ an item already in the Trash.

After you’ve ‘Put Back’ a file you may find you want it back in the Trash again. If you have done nothing else since moving the item then try the Undo command — Command z or Edit Menu > Undo. That should Undo the ‘Put Back’ command and put the item back in the Trash.

Whether you’re the kind of person who prefers to use keyboard, mouse or menus, there’s an easy Trash command for you.

Tell us in the Comments at the website your preferred ways to deal with Trashing and Putting Back files.

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