Have an Assistant Empty the Trash

Have an Assistant Empty the Trash
Mac Tip #435, 05 May 2010

You may not want to empty the Trash immediately, but you probably don’t want old, useless files just hanging around either. Hazel can selectively empty the Trash for you, getting rid of the oldest files, while keeping newer ones. Here’s how to set it up.

Empty the Trash: all or nothing

Empty the Trash.

Empty the Trash.

When you tell the Finder to Empty the Trash for you it’s all-or-nothing. If you do nothing (Cancel) then all the files stay in the Trash. If you go ahead and Empty Trash then all the files are removed. There’s no discretion in it at all.

I’ve discovered I like leaving files in the Trash for a few days — in case I change my mind — but I don’t want an ever expanding Trash folder. I’d like items to be removed if they’ve been in the Trash for a while.

That’s where one of my favourite utilities, Hazel comes in. You can use Hazel free for 14 days, then it costs US$21.95.

Hazel is your smart assistant

I use Hazel for several tasks on my Mac, but two of my favourites involve the Trash.

Hazel will remove older files from the Trash.

Hazel will remove older files from the Trash.

After you install Hazel it’s available from the bottom row of the System Preferences. Make sure Hazel is running and click on the Trash tab.

Delete older files

The first option Hazel offers is to delete files after they’ve been in the Trash for a defined amount of time. I like to set it for 1 week, but hours and days are also available.

Now I can just put files in the Trash and forget them. If I need them within 1 week I can still recover them. After that they are automatically deleted. The Trash doesn’t just grow and grow in size, as it’s being trimmed all the time.

Notice the option for how to delete files: normally or securely.

Handle large files

Hazel also has separate options for how to handle large files, and how large the Trash should be allowed to be in total.

I don’t use those options, but if you need to carefully control disk space or routinely handle huge files such as videos you can decide whether you prefer to keep them around for a while or to delete them immediately.

App Sweep really cleans up

I try out a lot of software. Deleting is always an easy drag to the Trash. But many applications sprinkle various preference and support files around a hard drive. When you drag the main application file to the Trash all those support files are left cluttering up your computer.

Hazel can sort that out for you.

Delete files using App Sweep?

Delete files using App Sweep?

Check the box labelled Enable App Sweep. Next time you remove an application Hazel searches your hard drive for files connected to that application. Then you see a dialog box where you can choose to keep all or some of those found files, or delete them.

To demonstrate: I deleted Google Chrome. After a few moments a dialog box appeared listing files that seemed to ‘belong’ to Chrome. I could then choose which files to delete and which to keep. (I kept them all and Put Back Chrome because it’s useful.)

In fact, Chrome only had one additional file, but some applications have numerous support files.

Hazel does a lot of other routine chores for me too, but I love these Trash options.

Tell us in the Comments at the website your experiences with Empty Trash.

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