Instructables

I want to erase data from a Mac but not the programs.

I have an old iMac (2004) with not too much personal stuff on it that I am worried about, but I am giving it to a friend, and I don't want to erase the music in iTunes or the applications like Photoshop and Word that can't be upgraded any longer.  When I Google how to erase a computer, the instructions for a Mac are sooooo easy - but all the directions talk about wiping out your "files". Are "files" programs that I can no longer load on to that Mac (because I no longer have the original disks, product serial numbers etc.)?

If that is the case is there another way to make my information on that old computer (that I was using up until 3 months ago) safe? I just don't want to loose the software applications that it has, but I would like to loose their content, ie, a journal I kept on Word, art stuff on Photoshop, old emails I saved, love letters, naked photos (just kidding) - the usual stuff.


I am not so worried about my friend but more about the next person down the road who might end up with this computer.

Wow! I just spent most of the day doing this manually, but with the Secure Empty Trash feature (I have a G4 Power Mac, 10.4.11) So, am I good? I'm really doing it because I have soooo many pictures of other people jewelry (for inspiration) cuz I'm aspiring to get rich from making my jewelry, and my computer loads some things sooo slowly sometimes.
Also, someone gave me an I-BOX (not X box) monitor, and since I love to have extras of everything, I was wondering about the possibility of using it with my Mac.
But then again, I don't want to blow up my baby.
Of course (apologies for the delay in responding to you). If you would like to ask a question in the forum, go to forums by clicking this link or by clicking on the Forums button on the upper right hand corner. Then click the orange "New Topic" button - it will be on top of the topic list, on the right hand side. Then you can make and submit a new forum topic. 

You can also ask a question by going to the ans
wers section, typing your question in the text box near the top of the page, then clicking the blue "Ask it!" button.
ARGH ARGH ARGH. The stupid comment bug manifests itself here.

I don't want to type it all out again...so...

Yes, you're good using Secure Empty Trash if you just want to delete files to free up space to make your computer faster. You are almost certainly not going to blow up your computer by plugging in that monitor, but Googling it proved unfruitful so I cannot advise further without more information. If you can plug it in to the computer you are probably golden. Is there a more complete make/model/brand on the monitor?
Ninzerbean (author)  ArtsyFartsyGirl2 years ago
You might want to post your question in the forums under Tech, I don't think it will get answered here under my post.
Kiteman2 years ago
I believe the usual advice is to re-save empty or nonsense files with the same names as those already existing, and then delete those.

I know gmjhowe is mac-savvy, but the friendly neighbourhood paranoid security expert is Lithium Rain.


(Oh and you've got the basic principle right, although you're supposed to overwrite the actual files instead to be extra double sure.)
Hi, first time here in this forum, not sure how to put in a question, so if you read the comment above, could you help me?
Of course (apologies for the delay in responding to you). If you would like to ask a question in the forum, go to forums by clicking this link or by clicking on the Forums button on the upper right hand corner. Then click the orange "New Topic" button - it will be on top of the topic list, on the right hand side. Then you can make and submit a new forum topic. 

You can also ask a question by going to the ans
wers section, typing your question in the text box near the top of the page, then clicking the blue "Ask it!" button.
You rang?

:D Computer files encompass much more than just programs (although programs are files themselves and are often associated with a multitude of supporting files). Everything on your computer - word documents, images, songs, programs, the operating system itself - is a file (or a collection of files).

If you're afraid of the Big Guns getting access to your information (ie, law enforcement), the only solution to being absolutely sure the data is gone is to physically destroy the platters - no software wiping method is known to be so thoroughly reliable that a determined foe with access to the right resources cannot recover the data (there is a theoretical point at which there are no known methods to recover the data, but there is no method, for example, which the NSA or DOD will accept as sufficient for properly sanitizing a drive of sekruts, - despite what the link I am about to give you may claim).

But for just getting rid of personal information so your friend won't be able to read your diary, etc, worry not - there are various and sundry programs to do this. If you have Mac OS X, this free tool will shred individual files - find them and get rid of them using this program. This should be sufficient for your purposes, but of course your mileage may vary, theoretically recovery is always possible and therefore should always be considered a possibility (if very remote), yadda yadda yadda. And don't always believe the hype - the program I linked to *will* do just fine, but not quite for the reasons it claims - all the nonsense about 7 passes just like the DOD endorses and Gutmann passes is so much inaccurate salesmanship. 1 pass is plenty.
Ninzerbean (author)  Lithium Rain2 years ago
You are amazing - thanks ever so!
:) Anytime.
vbmsa2 years ago
You can do that also by using the Mac's own Disk Utility under System Preferences.

1. Open Disk Utility
2. Highlight the partition that you want to permanently delete the old files from
3. Click on the Erase tab above
4. Click on Erase Free Space, then choose which erasing method you prefer and that's it. It will delete all the unused space from the computer and keep all the current ones intact.
PC voyer reading in awe :D
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