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Useful Trash, Part 1

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Although I cover a lot of full-featured products here at Mac Gems, longtime readers know that I always appreciate a good one-trick wonder. Today’s Gem is one of these.

A frequent question I get from readers is, “How do I get the Trash icon onto the Desktop [instead of only in the Dock]?” Most people asking this question originally used the “classic” Mac OS before migrating to OS X, but a few are transplanted Windows users. In either case, they either prefer the Trash icon on the Desktop aesthetically, or they keep their Dock hidden but want to be able to see the Trash at all times. I’m also occasionallty asked if it’s possible to place the Trash in the sidebar of Finder windows for quicker access. (Sure, you can delete an item by selecting it and then pressing Command+delete, but many people prefer to use the mouse.)

If you’re one of these Desktop Trash types, you’ll like Paolo Portaluri’s free SideTrash 1.1 (   ). (Note: The website is in Italian, but the download includes an English Read Me file.) SideTrash is simply an application—with a Trash icon—that mimics the behavior of Mac OS X’s own Trash. Place SideTrash on your Desktop and you’ve got a Trash icon wherever you want it. You just drag files and folders to the SideTrash icon and they’re moved to the actual Trash. You can even drag discs and mounted volumes to SideTrash to eject them, just as you can with the real Trash, and double-clicking the SideTrash icon opens the actual Trash. (Tip: You can even rename SideTrash “Trash.”)

SideTrash icon on the Desktop

You can even drag the SideTrash icon to the sidebar of any Finder window for convenient access; dragging an item to the SideTrash icon in the sidebar moves that item to the Trash.

SideTrash in sidebar

Two limitations, one minor and one significant, prevent SideTrash from getting an unequivical endorsement. First, the minor one: Unlike the actual Trash icon in the Dock, SideTrash’s icon doesn’t reflect the state (empty vs. not empty) of the Trash. But the more significant issue—and it’s a potentially serious one that keeps SideTrash from getting a significantly higher rating—is that if you drop an alias onto the SideTrash icon, the original item is moved to the Trash, not the alias. This makes sense once you think about it: SideTrash is an application, and when you drag an alias of a file or folder onto an application, the application will try to “open” the original, not the alias. (And to be fair, SideTrash isn’t the only “delete” or “trash” utility that suffers from this issue.) But knowing all this won’t make you feel any better if you accidentally toss a vital document in the Trash when you only meant to delete an alias to that document. So keep this in mind when using SideTrash.

If you’d like a bit more functionality from your Trash, and don’t mind spending a few bucks, tune in on Wednesday, when I cover a way to get all those Trash features you always wanted.

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