Recycle Bin: FAQ

The Recycle Bin on the desktop is a temporary storage place for deleted files. When you delete a file or folder on your PC, it doesn't get permanently deleted—it goes to the Recycle Bin. This is good because if you ever change your mind and decide you need a deleted file, you can get it back.

Recycle Bin when empty and full
The Recycle Bin when empty (left) and full (right)
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How do I restore files from the Recycle Bin?

If you accidentally delete a file, you can restore it to its original location.

To restore files from the Recycle Bin

  1. Open the Recycle Bin by double-tapping or double-clicking the Recycle Bin on the desktop.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To restore a file, select the file, tap or click Manage, and then tap or click Restore the selected items.

    • To restore all of the files, tap or click Manage, and then tap or click Restore all items.

    The files will be restored to their original locations on your PC.

Tip

  • You can also restore files by pressing and holding or right-clicking them, and then tapping or clicking Restore. To restore all files, select them all, and then press and hold or right-click.

Note

  • If you delete a file from a location not on your PC (such as a network folder), the file might be permanently deleted rather than stored in the Recycle Bin.

How do I permanently delete files from the Recycle Bin?

To permanently remove files from your PC and reclaim any drive space they were using, you need to delete the files from the Recycle Bin.

To permanently delete files from the Recycle Bin

  1. Open the Recycle Bin by double-tapping or double-clicking the Recycle Bin on the desktop.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To permanently delete one file, select it, tap or click Home, and then, in the Organize group, tap or click Delete.

    • To delete all of the files, tap or click Manage, and then tap or click Empty Recycle Bin.

Tips

  • You can also permanently delete files by selecting them in the Recycle Bin, and then pressing the Delete key.

  • You can empty the Recycle Bin without opening it by pressing and holding or right-clicking the Recycle Bin, and then tapping or clicking Empty Recycle Bin.

  • You can also empty the Recycle Bin from PC settings. In PC settings, tap or click PC and devices, tap or click Disk space, and then tap or click Empty my Recycle Bin.

  • You can permanently delete a file from your PC without sending it to the Recycle Bin by tapping or clicking the file and then pressing Shift+Delete.

How do I show or hide the Recycle Bin?

You can hide the Recycle Bin from your desktop if you don't want to see the icon, or you can bring it back if you miss it.

To show or hide the Recycle Bin on the desktop

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)

  2. Enter desktop icons in the search box, and then tap or click Show or hide common icons on the desktop.

  3. In the Desktop Icon Settings dialog box, do one of the following:

    • To hide the Recycle Bin, clear the Recycle Bin check box.

    • To show the Recycle Bin, select the Recycle Bin check box.

  4. Tap or click OK.

Note

  • Even when the Recycle Bin is hidden, deleted files are still stored there temporarily until you choose to permanently delete them or restore them.

How do I change the Recycle Bin settings?

You can change the settings of the Recycle Bin to suit the way you work.

Recycle Bin properties
Recycle Bin properties
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To set the maximum storage size for the Recycle Bin

If you like keeping all your deleted files in the Recycle Bin as a safety net, you can increase the maximum storage size for the Recycle Bin.

  1. On the desktop, press and hold or right-click Recycle Bin, and then tap or click Properties.

  2. Under Recycle Bin Location, tap or click the location of the Recycle Bin you want to change (likely drive C).

  3. Tap or click Custom size, and then, in the Maximum size (MB) box, enter a maximum storage size (in megabytes) for the Recycle Bin, and then tap or click OK.

Note

  • When the maximum storage size is reached, the oldest files will be permanently deleted from the Recycle Bin.

To permanently delete files instead of moving them to the Recycle Bin

You can choose to bypass the Recycle Bin when you delete something. We don't recommend this option.

  1. On the desktop, press and hold or right-click Recycle Bin, and then tap or click Properties.

  2. Under Recycle Bin Location, tap or click the location of the Recycle Bin you want to change (likely drive C).

  3. Tap or click Don't move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted, and then tap or click OK.

Tip

  • You can also permanently delete individual files by selecting them in File Explorer, tapping or clicking Home, and then in the Organize group, tapping or clicking the arrow under Delete, and then tapping or clicking Permanently delete.

To turn on the delete confirmation dialog

If you want to receive a message each time you send a file or folder to the Recycle Bin, you can choose to get the messages.

  1. On the desktop, press and hold or right-click Recycle Bin, and then tap or click Properties.

  2. Under Recycle Bin Location, tap or click the location of the Recycle Bin you want to change (likely drive C).

  3. Select the Display delete confirmation dialog check box, and then tap or click OK.

To change how the Recycle Bin looks

The Recycle Bin has two different appearances: one when it's empty, and one when it has files or folders inside. You can customize the appearance of the Recycle Bin by changing one or both of these icons.

Recycle Bin when empty and full
Comparison of the Recycle Bin when empty (left) and full (right)
  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)

  2. Enter desktop icons in the search box, and then tap or click Show or hide common icons on the desktop.

  3. In the Desktop Icon Settings dialog box, tap or click Recycle Bin (full) or Recycle Bin (empty), and then do one of the following:

    • To change the Recycle Bin to a new icon, tap or click Change Icon. Select an icon from the list, and then tap or click OK.

    • To change the Recycle Bin to its original icon, tap or click Restore Default.

  4. Tap or click OK.

Note

  • If you have multiple hard drives, partitions, or an external hard drive connected to your PC, each location will have its own Recycle Bin settings. When changing settings in the Recycle Bin Properties dialog box, under Recycle Bin Location, make sure you select the location you want to change.

Do my OneDrive files go to the Recycle Bin?

Yes. When you delete your OneDrive files, they go to the Recycle Bin on your desktop and the Recycle bin on the OneDrive website. You can restore the files from either place. For more info, see OneDrive: FAQ.

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