Recycle Bin

Updated: 10/07/2019 by Computer Hope
Windows Recycle Bin

Like the Apple's Trash application, the Recycle Bin is where deleted files or folders are temporarily stored in every version of Microsoft Windows since Windows 95. The Recycle Bin allows users to recover files that were deleted in Windows. It is on the desktop. The image is an example of what the Recycle Bin may look like in your version of Windows.


In newer versions of Windows, the Recycle Bin icon may be hidden by default. If this icon is missing, you may need to show the Recycle Bin, see: Missing Windows desktop Recycle Bin icon.


You can hold down the Shift when deleting a file to prevent it from going to the Recycle Bin.


If you delete a file in the Windows command line, it is not sent to the Recycle Bin.

Adding an item to the Recycle Bin

When you delete a file or folder, that file or folder is added, or sent, to the Recycle Bin.

How to open or find what is in the Recycle Bin

To open the Recycle Bin, double-click the Recycle Bin icon on the computer desktop. If done correctly, a new Recycle Bin window opens showing all of the files in the Recycle Bin.


If the Recycle Bin icon is not found on your computer desktop, see the next section below.

Why is my Recycle Bin icon missing?

With newer versions of Windows, the Recycle Bin icon may be missing from the desktop. Follow the steps in the link below to show the Recycle Bin on the desktop.

Why is the Recycle Bin emptied?

Because files are not removed when they are moved to the Recycle Bin, they are still taking up hard drive space. Most people empty the Recycle Bin to gain extra hard drive space and because they're sure they'll never need to recover the deleted files stored in the Recycle Bin.

How long do items stay in the Recycle Bin?

When a file or folder is deleted, it remains in the Recycle Bin until you empty the Recycle Bin.


If your hard drive is running low on disk space or has reached the Recycle Bin storage limit, files start being removed from the Recycle Bin.

Is the Recycle Bin a software program?

No. The Recycle Bin is a Windows feature that is similar to a folder in that it stores all deleted files and folders.

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