I have tons of file on my desktop. I am using latest macbook pro.

After selecting the file using mouse I hit delete and then "command and delete" and none of them work.

So finally I hit ctrl + mouse click and then I chose "Move to trash".

Is there a way to delete the file using only keyboard?

  • @lpacheco -- No, the Finder does not provide the ability to do this directly. You can press the keyboard commands to send to Trash and immediately empty the trash, or check out this question and answer (apple.stackexchange.com/questions/43577/…) for other ways to extend Finder to be able to do this. Aug 6, 2015 at 10:24
  • As the answers point out, this question doesn’t need more answers. What OP said didn’t work is the highest voted answer and we have options for both macOS and windows, which also isn’t specified in the body of the post.
    – bmike
    Jan 11 at 21:51

6 Answers 6


command+delete works just fine. Highlight the file (single click or use your keyboard to select it), then hold command and without releasing it, push delete. This moves the file or folder to the trash.

Note that delete is in the same place as Backspace on a Windows keyboard.

  • 1
    A variety of other OS X apps also require Cmd-Delete instead of simply Delete, mimicking the Finder. Jun 16, 2011 at 3:11
  • how did you make the command, delete and backspace show up as buttons?
    – Igbanam
    Jun 16, 2011 at 9:34
  • 1
    – jm666
    Jun 16, 2011 at 9:52
  • To select the icon of the file -- if no windows are active (or they are all closed -- you can start typing the icon's name. Aug 6, 2015 at 9:53
  • 1
    By the way, you can use ⌥⌘⌫ to bypass the Trash and delete it immediately.
    – SilverWolf
    Sep 19, 2017 at 15:01

The full procedure to delete a file from the desktop, without the mouse, that should work almost anywhere in OS X, includes the following.

Command-Tab to switch applications until the Finder is the active application.

If any Finder windows are currently open, press Command-Shift-D to open a new window containing the Desktop folder, or Option-Command-W to close all active Finder windows and make the Finder's desktop active;

To highlight the icon, type the first few letters of the icon's name, or press the arrow keys until it is selected (highlighted);

Command-Delete to send the icon to the trash;

Optionally, Command-Shift-Delete to empty the trash.

Learning the keyboard shortcuts takes time, but many of the steps in the Finder can become natural, almost "automatic" with enough practice.

(This answer gives the key names in U.S. English. The Command key is also labeled ; The Option key is also labeled ; The Shift key is also labeled ; and as mentioned by Styfle, the "delete" key is called "Backspace" on other operating systems.)


I had an issue with command+delete not working to delete things on the desktop that looked like apps I had installed earlier. Turns out they weren't files, but instead mounted DMG files that needed to be ejected with +E.


Just in case if someone uses external Microsoft Sculpt Ergo keyboard + Macbook Pro 2016. I'm able to move file to Trash with 'Win'+'backspace' keystroke.

  • 1
    Yes, in general the Windows key is the Command key for all operations.
    – grg
    Sep 19, 2017 at 15:01
  • It's more related to the fact that 'Win'+'Delete' doesn't work for me, but should, if we assume that 'Win' == 'Command'
    – St.Shadow
    Sep 25, 2017 at 17:24

TLDR: Use CTRL + d on Windows.

If you find yourself using Apple hardware in a Windows environment (like running Bootcamp on a MacBook Pro or just using an Apple keyboard in Windows), you may notice that delete is mapped to the Windows Backspace key which is never involved in deleting files.

But you can still send files to the recycle bin with CTRL + d.


highlight, then SHIFT + DELETE; click ok

  • How do you highlight with the keyboard only?
    – nohillside
    Dec 12, 2016 at 15:58

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