How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you.
Please check the Affiliate Disclaimer for more information.

Keep reading this article if you have been wondering how to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac. A while back I was completely baffled as to why my USB had very little storage space, but no files were appearing. I was convinced I had enough tech knowledge to be able to delete files off a flash drive on Mac but there was obviously an issue somewhere.

There are two things that we have to consider. Data storage is essential today as we are using it more than ever. From movies to photos and music, they all have to be stored somewhere safe.

USBs might seem a bit old school, but they are still one of the most important ways to transfer and/or store files. You know that your data is safe and at the same time, your Mac can perform better.

On the other hand, we don’t want to just start carelessly deleting files off a flash drive. Unless you want to start using data recovery software (often at a cost), once you press delete, it’s gone!

We are going to look at two ways to delete files off a flash drive on MacBook. Both are quick and easy, so you can choose the method that suits you.

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

The easiest way to show you how, is by using one of my USBs as an example – but no laughing at my music! I also have a photo folder, a PDF, and a video. The total storage capacity is 4GB and the drive has 2.91GB available. To find this information, insert your USB, click on it to get the menu, and choose “Get Info”.

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

Delete directly from the USB

The fastest way you can delete a file off a flash drive on a Mac is to open your USB, select the file you want to delete, and click to open the menu.

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

Choose “Move to Bin” and the file will disappear from your USB list and goes directly to your bin. You can also use the drag and drop method.

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

If you have some files that you want to delete, you can select the files together and either move them to the bin or drag them. To select all of your files on the USB, press “Command + A”.

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

At this point, you may want to check that the additional storage is freed up on your USB drive. Depending on your USB brand and Mac version, you might need to empty the bin to see the space on your USB.

Use Disk Utility

Using the Disk Utility to delete files off a flash drive is perfect if you want to clear the drive completely. Begin by locating the Launchpad in your Dock and look for the Disk Utility icon.

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

Click to open Disk Utility and a new window opens with “Internal” and “External” options in the toolbar to the left. Under “External”, you will find the name of your USB. Click it to see all of the information.

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

In the top right-hand corner, there is a menu. The “Erase” button is what will delete all of your files. But first, it will open a new window.

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

If you want to, you can rename the USB before clicking on the “Erase” button. It might take a few minutes, depending on how much data is on your USB. When it is complete, click “Done” and your USB will be empty.

 

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

With this method, you should be aware that the files don’t go into your bin. So, if you accidentally erase a flash drive using Disk Utility, you won’t be able to drag them back out of your bin.

Troubleshooting

If you are running into problems deleting files off a flash drive, you might have to format it. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think. First, you need to go back to Disk Utility, choose your USB, and click “Erase”.

How to delete files off a flash drive on a Mac

Under “Format”, you have different options. Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is the format for Mac use only. If you switch to MS-DOS (FAT), you can add and delete files from both Windows and Mac. It will still delete all of your files on the USB, so ensure you have a backup before you hit “Erase”.

Wrap Up

Deleting files from a flash drive is the type of job we tend to put off for another day. Before we know it, there are hundreds of files, most of which we probably will never need. If you want to delete individual files or a selection of files, it is best to drag and drop them into the bin.

This way you can double-check you are about to delete the right ones before emptying your bin. If you need to wipe a flash drive completely clean, using Disk Utility takes a few seconds and even fewer clicks.