Temporary storage directory on the Mac OS for to-be-deleted files. Files can be moved in and out of the Trash, but they are not truly gone until "Empty Trash..." is selected (and even then, recovery is possible if the stuff's not overwritten).

As part of Apple's early 1980s attempts to replicate the physical desktop on a computer monitor, a trash can was added to the Macintosh GUI. According to Bruce Tognazzini, the Trash was more importantly seen by the Mac and Lisa teams as a "neat" feature that people would like. It's an excellent example of human interface, reducing a concept most people wouldn't really understand (identifying tracks and sectors for zero-overwrite) to a simple idea folks were already familiar with (getting rid of files).

On most Macs, the Trash sits in the lower-right of the desktop, overflowing with papers when full, and looking quite slender and stately when empty. The trash icon was given an overhaul with Mac OS 8; the System 7 Trash was 2-D in appearance and bulged to the point of nearly breaking when files were inside. In Mac OS X Public Beta the Trash gains the appearance of a wastebasket and moves into the Dock. It remains to be seen whether this location will carry through to the final release, or if the Trash will get a contextual menu command for emptying like its Mac OS 9 cousin.

More than ten years after the Trash was introduced, Microsoft included a presumably more eco-friendly Recycle Bin to Windows 9x. The comapny line is that the true function of Recycle Bin/Trash directories is more accurately depicted by a recycling container, but let's face it: the only reason Microsoft gave it the unwieldy and decidedly lame Recycle Bin handle is Apple's lawyers.

I used to ResEdit the System and turn my Trash into a Nuclear Waste container, complete with a *zap!* sound upon emptying, but that got old fast.