How to Empty the Recycle Bin

In this guide, I will explain what the recycle bin is and how to change the functions of the recycle bin to suit your needs.  I will show you to empty and recover items that you have deleted.

How to empty the recycle bin

What is the recycle bin?

When you choose to delete an item it will be sent to the Recycle bin. The recycle bin acts as a temporary storage facility of items you have chosen to delete. It acts as a safety net or halfway house for the items before they are permanently deleted.

Where can I find the recycle bin?

You can find the recycle bin icon on the desktop of your computer as shown below. The icon on newer versions of windows is interactive (It will look empty or show contents when full).

Manually locate the recycle bin folder

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type File Explorer and press Enter to select. 
  3. The file explorer window will open.
  4. Delete everything in the Address bar, identified above.
  5. Type shell:RecycleBinFolder into the address bar.
  6. Press Enter.
  7. The Recycle Bin folder will open.
  8. To remove items press CTRL + A to select all and then once selected press Delete

Or alternatively, you can follow the below instructions.

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Recycle bin and press Enter to select. 

How to open the recycle bin

  1. Go to the desktop (Windows Key + D)
  2. Locate the Recycle Bin

The recycle bin

  1. Double left-click the Recycle Bin to open it

How to recover deleted files

If you have accidentally deleted an important file or folder you should be able to restore the deleted item from the recycle bin. Please note this method will not work if you have emptied the recycle bin.

  1. Go to the desktop
  2. Locate the Recycle Bin

The recycle bin

  1. Double left-click the Recycle Bin to open it
  2. A window will open which displays the deleted items.
  3. Right-click the file you wish to recover and select Restore.
  4. restore-file-from-recycle-bin
  5. The file will disappear from the recycle bin and return to the original location.

Note: If you accidentally deleted a folder that contained a file you wanted, you will need to restore the entire folder to retrieve the file.

How to empty its contents

The recycle bin will become large over time and need to be emptied. It is very simple to empty the recycle bin but you should note that emptying the recycle bin is permanent.

  1. Go to the desktop
  2. Locate the Recycle Bin

The recycle bin

  1. Right-click the Recycle Bin
  2. Select Empty Recycle Bin
  3. A warning box will appear advising this is permanent.
  4. Select Yes to empty

How to change the properties of the recycle bin

It is possible to bypass the recycle bin altogether and choose to delete items permanently rather than sending items to the recycle bin. Although this saves time I do not recommend using this option as the recycle bin is a nice safety net.

If you want to set this up you can do this in the recycle bin properties. You can also choose to set the amount of space allocated to the recycle bin and change the notifications you receive.

  1. Go to the desktop
  2. Locate the Recycle Bin
  3. Right-click the Recycle Bin
  4. Select Properties

Recycle Bin Properties

  1. In the Properties window, as shown above, there are a few options as outlined below
  • Select the custom size of the folder (this is the amount of hard disk space that the recycle bin will use)
  • Select Don’t move files to the recycle bin. This will bypass the recycle bin and permanently items when you click delete (I do not recommend enabling this option)
  • You can also choose whether to be warned when you delete items (I recommend leaving this on in case you accidentally deleted an item.)

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I hope you found this guide to the recycle bin useful. I spend lots of time putting these guides together at Techsnail.com and really appreciate your feedback you could leave in the comments.

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