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iCan: The Best Desktop Trashcan for Mac OS X!

Published March 14th, 2007

iCan: A customizable trashcan for OS X

iCan Desktop Trash SoftwareOriginally downloaded 12/8/06. Not only does iCan give Mac OS X users a desktop trashcan (which was probably it’s original appeal), it also gives them total control over the can. You can add different themes, develop your own theme with the free iCan Theme Studio, manage trash for each volume on your computer, add unnecessary noises to the can, make the can emit an animated poof when it’s emptied, do secure trash deletes, and much more. Besides the can, you can add and control trash in your menubar. Now, it is $10, so you gotta think about whether that can is really worth it. But I’m going to live with it for awhile and see for myself. Certainly, I’m already sure it’s going to be a lot of fun!
A Full iCan on My Desktop

Update 3/14/07. Well, I’ve been using iCan for the last month now and loving it! If you’ve longed to have a trashcan right on your desktop again and you don’t use DragThing, I highly recommend this little tool. The developer says he plans a significant update to iCan, but I’m frankly happy with it as it is! iCan can do pretty much everything you could want by way of a trash-enhancer:

  • Customizable trashcan on the desktop
  • Themeable cans let you customize the “to-trash” and “empty trash” noises as well as use custom “poof” animations for when the trash is emptied.
  • iCan's Context Menu in the MenubariCan's Context Menu in the Menubar

  • iCan’s preferences let you preview the themes in a variety of ways, including theme size and sounds. You can select new themes using a contextual menu on the can itself, and they’re applied instantly.
  • You can customize various click actions for interacting with the desktop can, and you can customize the contents of the can’s contextual menu.
  • iCan can put all its functions in a menubar extra, which can also update to reflect whatever theme you’re using.
  • Among the useful features of the context menu is the ability to force-empty the can. You can also specify a “secure” emptying… but beware, this can take a very long time if the can’s contents are huge. That’s not the fault of iCan, though.
  • iCan can show a submenu that lets you empty the trash for any volume on your system, or you can empty all volumes at once.
  • iCan can be set to automatically empty the trash when certain events occur–either the trash size passes a treshhold you specify, or the trash contains more than a certain number of items.
  • There are also a large number of preference settings for how iCan interacts with Finder.

iCan's Preferences Window Showing Theme Options

The only negatives I’ve noticed are that occasionally iCan refuses to let me reposition its trash icon on the desktop. Normally, you can move it by holding the Command key while dragging. Also, there seems to be a bug in how iCan does a force-delete. I’ve had occasions when it refused to empty itself, even when I used the hardest force-delete power iCan can muster. That’s probably the most serious issue I’ve had, and fortunately I don’t need to force-delete things very often.

All in all, I love having iCan on my desktop… and as a themer, I love being able to customize how it looks. If you’re interested in theming, check out the developer’s free iCan Theme Studio software… it makes iCan theme development drag-and-drop easy! (If you try iCan, feel free to download the iCan theme I built for my Crystal Clear appearance theme. It’s available on the main Downloads page.) This is software that’s well worth $10 and provides a lot of functionality that you can’t get from the Dock. One feature I’d like to see added is the ability to not only delete can contents on any volume, but also to view the trash for particular volumes. In the current version, you can only view contents for the entire trash can.

It’s worth noting that there’s a pair of applications that together provide the functionality of iCan, though they cost more and have some performance issues. I’m referring to Compost and Bin-It, which are being packaged together at MacTrash. Compost provides the menubar-and-contextual-menu functionality of iCan, while Bin-It provides the can-on-the-desktop functions. Separately, each is about the cost of iCan, but you can get the combo for about $16. However, the current version of Bin-It doesn’t provide for custom themes, and it has severe performance problems on my system. I can’t say anything positive about the company’s support, either… When I wrote to let them know that I had to shut down Bin-It after only a few minutes of use because it had suddenly consumed over 2.0 GB of virtual memory, and a whopping 1.4 GB of real memory, I got a reply that had nothing to do with Bin-It. Instead, it suggested that I download “the latest version of Meander from the Meander website - it should fix the problem that you were experiencing.” Which made me think WTF? to myself, because I had no idea what Meander was… I guess it’s a software package from the same company? Not comforting whatsoever. That said, the main thing I liked about Bin-It (if they ever get it working) was that it supports em:more than two states of trash—that is, you can have trash icons representing different levels of “full” or “empty”, rather than just two (full and empty). That could be kind of cool and would be entertaining to watch. :-)

Version as tested: 3.05.

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