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Recycle Bin

When you delete a file or folder in Windows, it is placed in the Recycle Bin. Items are temporarily stored in the Recycle Bin before they are permanently deleted by the user.

The Recycle Bin is located on the Windows desktop. When it is empty, the icon is an empty recycle bin. If it contains one or more items, the icon changes to a recycle bin with papers in it. You can move items to the Recycle Bin by either dragging them to the Recycle Bin icon or by selecting the items and pressing the Delete key. You may also right-click an item and select "Delete" from the pop-up menu.

You can open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking its icon. This allows you to view the files the Recycle Bin contains, just like a typical folder. However, in the left sidebar of the window, there is a "Recycle Bin Tasks" section that includes the options "Empty the Recycle Bin" and "Restore all items." Since Windows remembers the original location of each item, if you select "Restore all items," the files will each be placed back in their original location. You can also select items individually and restore them back to their previous folders.

Emptying the Recycle Bin

If you select "Empty the Recycle Bin," all the items in the Recycle Bin will be will permanently deleted. If you only want to delete a single item, you can select it, press Delete, then confirm you want to delete it. Deleted items cannot be restored, so you should only empty the Recycle Bin if you are sure you no longer need the files. It is a good idea to empty the Recycle Bin on a regular basis because it frees up disk space for other files.

Recycle or Trash?

The Recycle Bin serves the same purpose as the Trash found on Macintosh computers. While the name is not as simple, it is admittedly, more eco-friendly. It also reflects the idea that when you empty the Recycle Bin, it makes more disk space available, thereby "recycling" the sections of the disk that contained the previous data.

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Updated: August 13, 2009
Category: Software Terms