Mac Finder tip: delete a file without dragging it to the Trash

Mac Finder FAQ: How can I delete a file using just the keyboard, i.e., some keystroke combination?

Lots of people ask me if the only way to delete a file is to drag it to the trash can on the Dock. After all, pressing the [delete] key sure doesn't delete it.

The short answer is yes, you can delete a file in the Mac Finder with the keyboard by:

  1. Selecting the file(s) you want to delete, and then
  2. Pressing [Command][Delete].

Just like [Command][UpArrow] moves you up the folder hierarchy, and [Command][Enter] takes you down into a selected folder, you need to use the [Command] keystroke with the [Delete] key to perform this Mac Finder file delete operation.

If it helps, once you get used to it, it becomes second nature. For instance, I actually appreciate that hitting [Enter] when a file is selected lets me rename the file, while [Command][Enter] opens the file (or folder). Once you use it you go "Ahhh, I see why they did that". And in the case of deleting files, [Command][Delete] is actually a consistent use of the [Command] key when working in the Finder.