Windows Recycle Bin Tricks and Tips

What is the less noticeable icon on everyone’s desktop? The Recycle Bin, we bet! Usually, the things we don’t need any more end up there, so why even open the Bin? Most of us just empty it with all-in-one system cleaning apps or right-click the icon to delete everything inside. Today we want to pay more attention to this Windows instrument and will explain how it works and how you can use it to your advantage in Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1, and Windows 7.

Recycle Bin Tricks and Tips

Why we even need the Recycle Bin in Windows? To Keep your deleted files in case you might want them back. When you delete an object from any folder in the operating system, it gets a ticket to this bin. It is not deleted permanently from your PC.

You can erase a file by right-clicking it and selecting the option from the menu. Alternatively, you can left-click a file and hit the Del button on your keyboard. If you want to delete something permanently from your disk without sending it to the Bin, you can hold the Shift key and press Delete while the file/folder is selected.

How to restore deleted items?

Sometimes we change our mind or delete files by mistake. Just for these occasions, your Recycle Bin holds all deleted files until you empty it. Open the bin and right-click on the file or folder you need back and select Restore. The object will return to its original place before it was deleted.

When you are 100% sure that you want to delete something, right-click the item in the Bin and select Delete. Don’t want to erase all items individually? Right-click the Recycle Bin. In the menu to appear now click Empty Recycle Bin. If you have the explorer ribbon active, in the Manage tab you can also click on Empty Recycle Bin as well as Restore item(s). All items of the current User will be deleted. With the Command Prompt, you can also empty all Recycle Bins for all Users on the computer (you must have administrator rights and know the commands to enter – we will talk about this next time).

Recycle Bin location

The Recycle Bin’s folder is hidden by default. To be able to see it, you need to enable the option that allows you to see protected OS files. It can be done via the Control Panel.

Open the Panel, then select Appearance and Personalization.

Now click on File Explorer Options.

Go to the View tab and in the Advanced Settings field look for one particular setting – Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) – and uncheck it.

Apply changes and click OK.

Once all of the above is done, go to the C: drive. The $Recycle.Bin folder will appear. You can open it and check what’s inside.

Change Recycle Bin size

All Recycle Bins have their own size that depends on the user’s disk quota. For example, on Windows XP computers the Recycle Bin had the size equal to 10% of that quota by default. In next versions of Windows, the default size was set to 10% of the first 40GB of quota, plus 5% of any quota that is above 40 gigabytes.

You can easily change this parameter. Use right-clicking on the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop to select Properties from the context menu. In the general tab, there is an option to set the max size for the Bin.

Change Recycle Bin behavior

All behavior tweaks can be performed in the Recycle Bin properties. Right-click the icon and open the menu. There are a few settings here that can be changed. Also, remember that each Drive on your PC has its own Bin, so you must select the drive before making changes.

  1. You can set the max size of your Recycle Bin. It can be useful when you are working with multiple files on a daily basis and also delete them regularly. When the number of trashed files exceeds the limit, Windows starts deleting objects by a First-In-First-Out principle. To keep more files in the Bin, increase this parameter.
  2. The second option allows you to delete files without moving them to the Recycle Bin (they will be removed permanently from your hard drive). We don’t recommend using this option as we all make mistakes. You won’t be able to restore erased files with this option turned on.
  3. Many users find the delete confirmation message to be annoying. Here you can block it. Check or uncheck the Delete Confirmation Box option.

Add or Hide the Recycle Bin icon on the Desktop

Open Personalization settings by right-clicking anywhere on the Desktop and selecting the needed menu. Click on Themes. In the next menu select Desktop icon settings. A new window with icons will appear: you can show or hide including the one for the Recycle Bin. Check or uncheck the icons you need, then apply the changes, and click OK.

Rename Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin can be renamed as any other non-system file or shortcut on the computer. Right-click and rename it. Simple as that! However, this way you can rename the Bin only for the current user. If you want to the change the name for all users, you can do that as well but only with the Windows Registry tool.

Change the Recycle Bin icon

Your Recycle Bin uses only two different icons by default – when it is full and when it is empty. You can change them if you feel like it. To do that, you will need to open the Themes menu as we explained above. Personalization>Themes>Desktop Icon Settings. In the last selected menu, you will see the Change Icon button. Click it and select the icon you want your Recycle Bin to have. 

Recover files deleted from Recycle Bin

Sometimes you need to get back files that were permanently deleted from your Recycle Bin. In this case, you need to use advanced file recovery software, for example, Recuva. After deleting important files from the Bin, you should cancel all other processes and install the recovery software to undelete items.

Final words

There are a few more tricks you can perform with the Recycle Bin. For example, add it to the Taskbar, make it appear in This PC or computer directory, create a new Bin specifically for files from USB drives and removable media, etc. If you are interested in those tips and tricks as well – let us know, and we will add more guides on this topic in the future!