Recovering a deleted file from the Windows Recycle Bin

Updated: 01/24/2018 by Computer Hope

Windows Recycle BinWhen a file is deleted in Microsoft Windows 95 and later, it's automatically sent to the Windows Recycle Bin in case it needs to be recovered if the file was mistakenly deleted. Below are the simple steps that can be followed to recover those files if they were mistakenly deleted.

  1. Go to the Windows desktop, where you can see the Recycle Bin icon. If there are any files in the Recycle Bin, the icon should look like there is trash in the bin.

Tip: If the Recycle Bin icon is missing, see our missing Windows desktop Recycle Bin icon page.

  1. Double-click the Recycle Bin icon to open the window displaying all files in the Recycle Bin. If no files are seen, skip to the next section below.
  2. To restore any of the deleted items, you can follow any of the steps below.

    3a. Highlight the file you want to restore, right-click the file and select the Restore option to restore the file to the original location it was deleted.

    3b. Highlight the file you want to restore, right-click the file and select Cut. Next, access the location you want to move the deleted file to and click Paste.

    3c. Drag-and-drop the icons from the Recycle Bin to the folder you want to store the files.

Recovering files from an empty Recycle Bin

If you cannot find the files in the Recycle Bin or the Recycle Bin is empty, you may have enabled the option to not send files to the Recycle Bin or the Recycle Bin has been emptied. In this situation, try recovering the lost files through one of the other methods mentioned on our recovering lost files page.

Additional information