Delete refers to the act of removing or erasing content from a file directory, application, or device. Unlike cutting, deleting does not necessarily place the removed object in a buffer state for easy recovery. For example, deleting a character from a word processing document means the character will be erased from the file. This action can only be reversed if the application has an “undo” function.

Recommended: Are Deleted Files Completely Erased?

How to delete

In some devices or other applications, a file that has been deleted is moved to a “recently deleted” folder that the user must access if they want to recover it. This folder is called Trash on macOS and Recycle Bin on Windows operating systems. When a file is deleted and sent to one of these folders, the reference to the file is removed, but the file itself is not immediately erased until the folder is emptied and its contents are permanently removed. Therefore, the process of restoring deleted files typically only takes a few clicks. Some programs like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro or CrashPlan can help recover files that appear to be permanently erased or damaged.

The physical act of deleting content or files typically uses one of two keyboard keys: backspace or (appropriately) delete. In most standard PC QWERTY keyboards, the backspace key is in the top right corner under the function keys and is used to delete text to the left of the cursor or to remove a section of highlighted content. The delete key is usually included in a section of navigation keys alongside insert, home, end, page up, and page down keys. It is also sometimes included in numeric keypads. The delete key is used to erase text to the right of the cursor, but this key is not standardized across keyboard manufacturers and is sometimes omitted completely.

It’s worth noting that basic Apple keyboards label the backspace key with “delete” and do not have a separate key for deleting text to the right of the cursor. Extended Apple keyboards, however, have a key named “clear” that accomplishes this goal. There is also no delete key on Chromebooks, but a combination of Alt+Backspace keys will reverse the direction of a normal backspace.


Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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