One of the reasons I like Mac automation applications is that they provide more than one way to perform a task.

Thus when it comes to deleting files and other items on my Mac, thankfully I’m not limited to punching the Delete key or dragging items to the trashcan.

In this article I share several Mac automation features I use to delete items and text as I work. I’m quite sure that there are other ways to delete items that I don’t mention in this article, so feel to share your methods in the comment section at the end of this article.

Click Delete

When it comes to manually deleting files in the Finder or items in a document, I mostly use the finger gesture program, BetterTouchTool. I rarely ever drag items to the trashcan or click the Delete key, especially when my hand is already on the trackpad.

With my BTT actions, I can simply do a three-finger or five-click on a file or item in a document, and it will be sent directly to the trash.

For deleting files in the Finder and on the desktop, I use a Three-Finger click, which triggers the Command+Delete keys.


For items in a document or application, I might use the Five-Finger click, which triggers the Delete key. I use this gesture only if my hand is already on the trackpad.

BetterTouchTool action

Hazel Delete

The folder action, application, Hazel, has been my personal file assistant for deleting and managing files.

First off, I don’t like a cluttered desktop. So Hazel keeps it squeaky clean, by moving files on my desktop to my Junk Folder that have been there for more than hour. As you can see in the rule setup below, I have Hazel ignore MPEG-4 files because I have them moved to another folder.

hazel delete files

To make sure my Junk folder doesn’t get clogged up, I have Hazel move files that have been there more than 20 days, to the trashcan.


I rarely manually empty to the trashcan in the Dock, because Hazel comes with a built-in feature for automatically emptying the trashcan when the contents reaches a specified file size.

Hazel trashcan

Mail Delete

Like most computer users, I struggle to manage emails. Thus the main reason I stick with Apple’s Mail is for it’s advanced smart rules. I use a few different rules to delete old emails from specified senders.

For example, I like getting my Crowdfire reports, but the daily reports can easily clutter up my inbox. So this Mail gets rid of those emails after days. Note: this action only works with new incoming emails after the rule is created, not existing emails.

mail rule

Voice Delete

I also use a Dragon Dictate voice command to trigger the Delete key. It’s one of over a hundred voice commands I use on my Mac. I mainly use this command though while I’m writing and proofreading blog posts.

For example, I can delete a comma or single character by issuing the “Delete” voice command. This reduces the amount of times I need to move my hand from the trackpad to the keyboard in order to hit the Delete key.

Dragon Dictate delete command

I use a similar command for selecting and cutting a word directly behind the cursor. This command especially comes in handy while proofreading, because it means not clicking the Delete key several times to delete or word, or looking down at the keyboard to locate and press the keyboard shortcut for deleting a word. Dragon Dictate triggers the keys for me. (Note: ignore the “a” in the screenshot below. It gets stuck there by default.)

Dragon Dictate cut words

You can use whatever command word(s) you want. My chosen commands will only trigger when the words are said out of context with other words.

KM Delete

One of my most used delete actions is trigged by a Keyboard Maestro macro. This macro enables me to delete a word behind the cursor as I’m typing.  I use the assigned string trigger “jk” to trigger a macro that deletes a word directly behind the cursor.


The following gif shows the trigger in action.

Screen Recording 2016-08-08 at 02.08 PM

An even faster way of deleting a word while typing is to use a similar Key Sequence action in BetterTouchTool.  I simply double-click my Spacebar to delete the word behind the cursor. I explain how to set up this action in my BetterTouchTool course. The Key Sequence feature as of this writing is fairly new to BetterTouchTool.

Alfred Delete

I use Alfred mainly for locating previously copied text and performing Google searches. But just as the pro version of Alfred allows for locating files on your Mac, it also allows for deleting searched files.

I personally think the process requires a few too many steps, but the search and delete feature still might come in handy for when you want to keep your hand on the keyboard while working.

Alfred file delete

Here’s more information about how to search, delete, copy, and moves files using the Powerpack for Alfred.

File Shredder

Another tool I use on occasion is File Shredder. I can easily access it from the Services menu when I right-click on a file that I want overwritten several times after it’s deleted.

File Shredder

There are other ways to securely delete files, but I find this application the most convenient way to do so.

Your Methods?

There are other ways to delete files, items, and text on your Mac . Using the Command Line is another method for deleting files. Let me know if there are other hacks and strategies that you use to delete files and data on your Mac.








Alfred Delete


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