How do I empty or manage the Windows Recycle Bin?

By default, Microsoft Windows 95 and all subsequent versions use up to 10% of your computer's available disk space to save the most recently deleted files. Its purpose is to allow users the ability to recover files that have been accidentally deleted. As the Recycle Bin is filled up, older files are permanently removed from your hard drive to make space for newly deleted ones. The following sections contain information on the using the Recycle Bin and its various functions.

I don't see the Recycle Bin icon

Windows Recycle binHow to know if the Recycle Bin contains files

If any file has been deleted in Windows, it is automatically moved to the Recycle Bin. As you can see in the image to the right, a Recycle Bin with deleted files in it appears as a waste basket full of crumpled paper and an empty one does not contain any. Also, when an empty Recycle Bin is accessed, the message "This folder is empty" is shown.

View deleted files

Users browse these files double-clicking the Recycle Bin icon.

How to recover files sent to the Recycle Bin

Manage the Recycle Bin capacity

If you want to modify how much space Windows uses to store deleted files for all drives or independently, you can right-click on the Recycle Bin icon and click Properties. In the Recycle Bin Properties window, you can adjust how much space the Recycle Bin takes by dragging the slider left to right, or completely disable the Recycle Bin feature.

When should I empty the Recycle Bin?

Emptying the Recycle Bin permanently deletes files from your hard drive, it's recommended you do this only when you're sure you won't need the files again.

Emptying the Recycle Bin

To empty the Recycle Bin, right-click the Recycle Bin icon and select Empty Recycle Bin from the drop-down menu.

Additional information