Mac OS X 10.11 "El Capitan" - What happened to...?

Mac OS X 10.11 “El Capitan”
What happened to…?

OS X 10.11 “El Capitan” brings several important features to the Mac, but it also removes a few. Here are three things people are missing in El Capitan that I’ve been hearing about the most: Repair Permissions, Dashboard, and Secure Empty Trash.

1) What happened to Disk Utility? I can’t repair permissions anymore!

Correct - Apple has removed the Verify and Repair Disk Permissions functions from Disk Utility. The command line program ‘diskutil’ has also had those functions removed.

But WHY?

Apple changed OS X so developers can no longer assign permissions to files and folders that their software installs. Therefore, repairing permissions is no longer necessary. This is a very good thing!

2) What happened to Dashboard? It’s gone!

No it’s not, Apple just leaves it off by default now. It’s very simple to get Dashboard back if you use it:

Open System Preferences. Click on Mission Control. Click the popup menu next to Dashboard and choose “As Space.” The Dashboard button on the keyboard should now work.

3) What happened to Secure Empty Trash? I can’t securely wipe files anymore!

Correct - Apple has removed the Secure Empty Trash option from Finder and its preferences. You can no longer erase (wipe) a file or folder multiple times from Finder to make it completely irretrievable from the drive.

But WHY?

Simply put, the Secure Empty Trash function never worked all the time, so instead of fixing it they just removed it. However, there is a command line utility built into UNIX, and therefore OS X, that will securely remove any file or folder and write over it a few dozen times, making the data totally irretrievable. If you require this feature then read on, otherwise stop now!


*****Keep in mind that this function is not reversible. Once a file or folder has been securely removed this way, it can never be recovered again by any means!!!!!*****

If you're scared of the Terminal, STOP! You have been warned!

The command is ‘srm’ (short for Secure ReMove). Ignore and do not type any quotation marks you see below - they are only there to show the commands:

Use “srm -v <file>” to securely remove a file, and “srm -r -v <folder>” to securely remove a folder and all its contents.

The “srm” command runs the program, the “v” modifier turns on Verbose Mode so you can see the progress of the wipe, and the "r" modifier will recursively wipe an entire folder and its contents. Below are examples of these Terminal commands:

“srm -v /Users/me/Desktop/File_to_wipe.doc”

“srm -r -v /Users/me/Desktop/Folder_to_wipe”

Remember that in OS X Terminal, file or folder names that contain spaces must use a backslash before the space, or the space will not be recognized. So, if the filename is “File to wipe.doc” then the command:

“srm -v /Users/me/Desktop/File to wipe.doc” is INCORRECT - it will fail and say “no such file.”

“srm -v /Users/me/Desktop/File\ to\ wipe.doc” is CORRECT - there are backslashes before every space.

Now here are the same examples for wiping a folder with spaces in its name:

“srm -r -v /Users/me/Desktop/Folder to wipe" is INCORRECT - it will fail and say “no such directory.”

“srm -r -v /Users/me/Desktop/Folder\ to\ wipe” is CORRECT - there are backslashes before every space.


Paul K.

The Mac Doc - Apple Macintosh Tutor for all ages

50+ hours
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