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About

Trash Browser

In many respects the Mac's user interface is fantastic, but it's not perfect and it has a few irritating features too. For example, there is no easy way to delete a file. Of course, you can send it to the Trash, but that's not deleting it, it's simply moving it elsewhere.

To actually delete the file you must empty the Trash. However, this deletes all the files in the Trash folder and not just the one you want to delete. The whole point of the Trash folder is to store deleted files just in case you discover that you actually need something and want to recover it. If you empty the Trash you lose the ability to recover any deleted files!

The Trash can be very frustrating - you want to delete a file, perhaps because it is very large like a video clip and you need the disk space, or it contains personal information like bank or credit card details and you would rather not leave it lying around the hard disk drive. You can't delete the file without emptying the whole Trash.

Trash Browser solves the problem by allowing you to deletes files and folders in the Trash folder without having to empty the whole lot.

  • Browse the contents of the Trash folder
  • Sort the contents by name, date or size
  • Select and delete files/folders in the Trash
  • Securely delete files/folders by overwriting

Requirements: Apple Mac with Intel processor, OS X 10.4, 10.5, 10.6

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How to use Trash Browser

Run the program and the contents of the Trash folder is displayed. Click the column headings to sort by name, date or size. Select a folder and click the Open button (second from left), to open a folder and display the contents. Click the Back button (first), to go back to the previous folder. Click an item to select it, hold down the Command key (with the Apple logo) and click more items to add to the selection. Use the Select All and Select None buttons to select/deselect items too. When you've selected the items you want to delete, click the Delete button (the trash can).

Trash Browser

Options

Secure: When a file is deleted on a hard disk drive it isn't really deleted and the space it occupies is simply marked as 'free for use'. There is lots of free space on the disk and the operating system might not use that particular bit for some time. Until it gets used to store another file, the original file can still be recovered. This is a security risk and you don't want someone to be able to recover personal or private information. Some files should therefore be deleted in such a way that they can never be recovered. Tick the Secure option and Trash Browser overwrites the files before they are deleted so they can't be recovered.

Grid: Tick this to show gridlines.

Ask: You will be prompted to confirm every deletion. You'll actually see the command that Trash Browser executes before it actually executes it. It's the operating system rm command and this option gives you the opportunity to check that it's OK before going ahead with it.

Secure deletion

When a file is deleted on a hard disk drive it isn't really deleted and the space it occupies is simply marked as free. There is lots of free space on the disk and the operating system might not use that particular bit for some time. Until that bit of the disk is used to store another file, the original file can still be recovered. This is a security risk and you don't want someone to be able to recover personal or private information. Some files should therefore be deleted in such a way that they can never be recovered.

There are many schemes for securely deleting a file on a hard disk drive and Peter Gutmann is famous for inventing a 35-pass method that writes a series of patterns to the disk. However, that method was invented in the mid 1990s and hard disk drive technology has moved on since then. The bit density of modern disks is so high that once a file has been overwritten - just once - it's nearly impossible to recover. Peter Gutmann and experts at data recovery companies now say that overwriting a file two or three times with random data is all that's needed to ensure that no-one can ever recover it and that 35 passes is just a waste of time.

Trash Browser therefore overwrites files three times and this is sufficient to prevent recovery of deleted files.

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