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Using Windows Recycle Bin

The windows Recycle Bin is a temporary storage location for deleted files. It provides protection for those times when you accidentally delete a file or files.

The Recycle Bin icon typically resides in the upper left corner of the Windows Desktop screen. It looks like this, but your background color may be different.

When you delete files, they go into the Recycle Bin, unless you specifically and permanently delete files. More on this later.

Recycle Bin Sizing

Right click the Recycle Bin icon and then click Properties. If multiple disk drives appear in the upper portion of the window, choose the appropriate drive. Multiple drives may appear if you have external drives connected to the computer. Typically, you will select the drive designated as OS(C:).

Select Custom size and enter the number of megabytes you wish to use for the Recycle Bin. It’s hard to advise on how much space to set aside. It depends on the size of your hard drive and how much free space it has. My setting indicated below has saved files that were deleted two months ago, which is adequate for me. If you select the Don’t move files to Recycle Bin option, the Recycle Bin will be disabled, and files will be permanently deleted. Click OK to apply the settings.

Using the Recycle Bin

Let’s say you accidentally delete a file and need to recover it. Double click the Recycle Bin icon. A screen will show the files contained in the bin. You can click on the column headers to sort by name, location date, etc. There's also a Search box in the upper right corner you can use if you remember the deleted file’s name. I usually toggle the date column so the most recently deleted files are at the top of the list. Those are the ones I usually need to recover.

Select the file or files to recover, then right click and then click Restore. The files will go right back where they were located before you deleted them. You probably should review the original location before restoring the files, so you’ll know where to find them after restoring.

Permanently Deleting Files

When deleting files, you can bypass the Recycle Bin. Think carefully before doing this. In File Explorer, after selecting the files to delete, hold down the Shift key while 1) Pressing the Delete key on the keyboard, or 2) Right clicking the selected file(s) and then clicking Delete on the pop-up menu, or 3) Click the down arrow on the big red X on the Home Ribbon and then click Permanently delete.

In many apps, holding Shift while deleting also works. For example, in the email program I use on my computer, I can select messages I don’t need and hold the Shift key down while using one of the delete methods shown above.


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