If you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of the OS X vs Windows features debate, you might have noticed how Trash can or Recycle Bin are rarely ever compared. While this might be because a delete operation doesn’t sound like a big deal but lets face it, Trash in OS X has a major shortcoming compared to Windows’ Recycle Bin: you can’t delete the items in it one by one, and even if you want to permanently remove a single file from Trash, you have to empty it all. Supercan is a free Mac app that solves this problem. It syncs with Trash and lists each file that you’ve sent to it, allowing you to permanently remove individual items. In addition to deleting files the normal way, Supercan also supports secure deletion (file shredding), which overwrites sectors your disk to ensure deleted data can’t be recovered by file recovery apps.
Once you open Supercan, it will immediately load all files in your Trash. We experimented with a rather modest load in our Trash and it loaded them quickly but if you’ve got a lot of files in yours, the app might take more time to load them all. As you scroll through the list, you will see a selection check box, the file name, an icon representing the file type, a shred button and a check box labelled ‘secured’ for each file.
You can click the ‘Shred’ button for each file to delete them individually, or select multiple files and click the ‘Shred all…’ button at the top to delete all the selected files together. Once you click ‘Shred’, the app gives you a countdown of 30 seconds before deleting the file. This countdown is like a window of opportunity to reconsider deleting the file to make sure you don’t end up deleting it accidentally. If you still end up accidentally starting the shredding operation for multiple files (or decide you want to keep a few of the selected files) and can’t stop them all at once, the large ‘Pause’ button on top will allow you to stop the process in one click. In the developer’s own words, this is your panic button.
To securely shred a file for ensuring that it can’t be recovered, just check the ‘Secured’ option for it before shredding it. Supercan also offers a search feature that can come handy in case you’ve filled Trash a bit too enthusiastically, and can’t find the file(s) you want to remove permanently. It also allows you to delete items from other volumes that you might have connected. You can also drag & drop an item over Supercan’s Dock icon to shred it directly, bypassing Trash altogether. Though make sure to use this option with care to avoid accidental data loss.
In Supercan’s preferences, you can specify a custom time for the countdown timer that runs before shredding each file. You can also enable or disable sounds for moving files to trash and emptying trash.
More technically savvy users (or those who delete a file only when they really mean it) also have the option to use a Terminal command for deleting a single file in OS X. Though this command can have disastrous effects if you end up deleting the wrong file, and that’s why Supercan with its panic button is a great app to have around for the purpose.