How do you delete a file you have selected in a Finder window, without using the mouse?

delete doesn't do it.
When I looked it up, I was said that command-delete is supposed to do it, but it doesn't work for me.

  • I assume the CMD is enabled in keyboard preferences!
    – Ruskes
    May 12, 2013 at 14:36
  • 1
    I did CMD + Backspace delete file, CMD+Shift+backspace empty recycle bin. Feb 4, 2022 at 21:46

10 Answers 10


It should work in Finder by default, but did you press the right delete key?

  • Delete (⌫) is the key that is called backspace on other platforms
  • Forward delete (⌦) is the key that is called delete on other platforms
  • 11
    OMG. This is sick! I have spend hours trying to delete a file... and then used the terminal with "rm"
    – Mando Stam
    Jun 25, 2015 at 11:18
  • I agree !! thanks... ;) that was not obvious at all ! :)
    – maycca
    Apr 11, 2016 at 18:22
  • 9
    There are two "delete"-keys on my stupid Apple keyboard, neither of them actually deletes anything. You have two press Command+Delete?! But that of course only works for one of the two delete keys.^^ WTF?!?! Mar 15, 2018 at 22:48
  • 1
    I read Ron's answer to find out Cmd + Backspace works. I skimmed this answer and assumed it was telling me there's two keys -- Backspace and Delete (which I know) not that they're swapped on mac (which I didn't know!). An improvement to this answer for someone like me would be to add "The Delete and Forward delete keys are swapped compared to other platforms" Sep 28, 2018 at 18:10
  • 1
    care to explain why "delete is backspace"?
    – FranXho
    Jun 28, 2021 at 15:30

I had the same problem. Later I discovered that it was my own mistake. But also a mistake from Apple. On the extended keyboard with numeric pad there is a button says DELETE. (It's not on the short wireless keyboard) This is NOT the delete button for the combination Cmd-Delete. You have to use the button with the backarrow! So Cmd-Backarrow.

  • good point, it works for me
    – dresden
    Apr 16, 2014 at 11:44
  • 3
    Yeah, works for me too. CMD + Backspace deletes files in Finder Sep 28, 2018 at 18:07
  1. Look into "System Preferences → Keyboard keys" and make sure Command is enabled and mapped to the Cmd key. Check also custom shortcuts in the "Keyboard Shortcuts" panel.

    Keyboard preference panel of OS X

  2. Go to Finder, select a file, open the "File" menu and see what shortcut is associated to "Move to Trash".

    "File" menu of Finder


tl;dr: If ⌘-delete doesn't work, try ⌘-⌥-delete (command-option-delete) instead.

I had this problem on a new iMac with a standard Apple keyboard running the latest version of OS X (Mavericks 10.9.3 as of this writing). This was driving me crazy because I use ⌘-delete frequently, and I often switch between the iMac and my MacBook Air (running the same version of OS X) on which ⌘-delete works fine. I just discovered by chance and desperation that, for some reason, ⌘-⌥-delete (command-option-delete) does work. It's not as good as having the same keystrokes work on both machines, but at least now there's some keyboard shortcut I can use on the iMac.

UPDATE: For no apparent reason, ⌘-delete has started working.

  • and they say Apple is easier to use... 🙄
    – Andz
    Mar 12, 2019 at 3:13

I experience that before. and my accidental solution is command + delete after that press command + backspace.


This may not help many, but here is how I restored "Command+delete".

A while back, I was convinced that this key combination for "Move to Trash" was not working in my macOS Sierra. So, in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts, I attempted to manually define a shortcut "Move to Trash". But, I was never allowed to assign the same "Command+delete" key combination.

A frustrating few weeks have passed until this morning. But, this morning, I was determined to restore "Command+delete" and once again went into the App Shortcuts pane. There, it occurred to me to DELETE the very shortcut and key combination I had been trying to define. So, I selected my "Move to Trash" Finder shortcut and clicked on the "minus" button to delete it.

Upon returning to the Finder, I was stunned to see "Command+delete" appearing to the right of "Move to Trash" again.

So, if you have tried many things to restore the "Command+delete" key combination for "Move to Trash", one thing I would like for you to try is this:

  1. In System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts, create a Finder shortcut for "Move to Trash" and assign whatever key combination that the system accepts.
  2. Go back to the Finder and confirm that your key combination works.
  3. Now, return to the App Shortcuts pane, select the shortcut you created, and press the "minus" sign to delete the shortcut.
  4. Go back to the Finder and see if "Command+delete" has return to "Move to Trash.

For Macs (Macbooks only) using Logitech MX series, perm delete shortcut is: Cmd+Opt+Del (macOS is Monterey v12.X)

  • If you use an external keyboard anyway, why does it matter whether it is a MacBook or a Mac mini?
    – nohillside
    Apr 6, 2022 at 15:21
  • @nohillside it matters not the build would be different depending MacOS your apple device is operating on Jan 17, 2023 at 15:46

I accidentally discovered that Fn + Delete did the job for me in macOS Sierra.


Command-backspace seems to work. But lots of confusion is caused by the fact that Apple insists on being "special" when it comes to backspace and delete keys.

Let's be clear, the ASCII standard has a BS (ASCII code 08) and DEL (ASCII code 127).

Most keyboards have both a key labelled Backspace, and a key labelled Delete. (Or something similar.)

Most systems (Windows, Linux, etc.) interpret the Backspace key to mean "Delete the character left of the cursor," and Delete means "Delete the character under, or to the right of, the cursor".

On my mabook pro keyboard (which I almost never use), there is only a Delete key. It functions as the rest of the universe expects Backspace to work.

  • You can of course perform a DEL Delete on a MacBook keyboard with FN - Backspace.
    – benwiggy
    Aug 14, 2020 at 18:52
  • Of course. Obvious, right? Not.
    – Duncan
    Aug 16, 2020 at 4:52

CmdOptBkSp did it for me for macOS Monterey with a 101+ keyboard.

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