Make a Better Recycle Bin With These Great Tools & Tricks

Chris Hoffman 19-11-2012

Most of us are very familiar with the Recycle Bin. We use it regularly, and it seems like a feature we can’t do much to customize – deleted files go there, and we can permanently delete them later. But there’s a lot more you can do to customize and tweak your Recycle Bin, from placing it in your system tray and automatically clearing old files to changing its icon and name.


The tips here apply to Windows 7 The Windows 7: Ultimate Guide If you are afraid to upgrade from Vista or XP because you feel it is completely different to what you are used to, you should read this new guide. Read More and should work similarly on Windows 8 The Windows 8 Guide This Windows 8 guide outlines everything new about Windows 8, from the tablet-like start screen to the new "app" concept to the familiar desktop mode. Read More and Vista, too. If you’re still using Windows XP, check out our previous list of 10 Tips For the Recycle Bin on Windows XP Don't Click Delete - 10 Tips For The Recycle Bin (Windows XP) Read More .

Put The Recycle Bin In Your System Tray

Wish the Recycle Bin were more accessible? If you don’t like having a cluttered desktop, you can place the Recycle Bin in your system tray Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray Every Windows user has seen the Windows system tray (also known as the notification area) become cluttered over time. We’ve covered disabling distracting desktop notifications in the past, but what if the icons themselves are... Read More alongside the other Windows system noticiation icons. To do this, try Freedom Input or Freedom Input. MiniBin offers more configuration options, while MicroBin is a tiny system tray utility without any configuration options. These tools use very little memory and integrate perfectly with the default system icons – they look like something Microsoft themselves might have created.

better recyle bin

To make this program automatically start with Windows, drag and drop its .exe file into the Startup folder in your Start menu.

Remove Only Old Files From The Bin

By default, the Recycle Bin only lets you empty all files inside it. RecycleBinEx adds some useful context menu entries Make Windows 7 Faster By Removing Context Menu Entries Windows 7’s context menus can become cluttered over time, filled with different options from the various programs you’ve installed. Worse yet, badly behaved context menu entries can add delays before the context menu appears, slowing... Read More – with RecycleBinEx installed, you can right-click your recycle bin and delete files from a certain date range. For example, you can remove all files that were deleted over a week ago, but keep files deleted within the last week in case you need them.


RecycleBinEx also has a few other useful features – for example, you can have it automatically run at startup to automatically delete older files from your Recycle Bin. Your Recycle Bin will always have recently deleted files in it, but older files will be removed automatically.

recycle bin tools

Skip The Recycle Bin

Want to permanently delete a file without sending it to the Recycle Bin? Select the file and press Shift+Delete. The file will be instantly removed from your hard drive without going to the Recycle Bin — you won’t be able to remove it unless you use a file-recovery program Recover Lost Data For Free With Pandora Recovery [Windows] Last night I inadvertently deleted 17GB of data with a mis-press of Shift+Del, causing a classic "oh sh*t!!" moment. I’d chosen to "permanently delete" the folder, skipping the Recycle Bin and instantly freeing up some... Read More .

recycle bin tools


Disable The Confirmation Message

Do you dislike the “Are you sure you want to move this file to the Recycle Bin?” message that appears whenever you delete a file? I do (but maybe I’m just impatient). To disable the confirmation message, right-click the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop and select Properties. Uncheck the Display delete confirmation dialog option.

recycle bin tools

Configure Your Recycle Bin

From the Recycle Bin’s Properties dialog, you can also change the Recycle Bin’s maximum size.When the Recycle Bin files up – or if you delete files that are larger than its maximum size – the files will skip the Recycle Bin and be deleted immediately.

You can also disable the Recycle Bin from here to have Windows always delete files immediately instead of sending them to the Recycle Bin. We don’t recommend this – everyone occasionally deletes a file by accident, and using the Recycle Bin ensures you can easily undo any mistakes.


Hide The Recycle Bin

If you want an uncluttered desktop 7 Simple Steps to an Awesome Minimalist Desktop Read More without a Recycle Bin, you can easily hide the Recycle Bin icon – no registry tweaks required.

To hide the Recycle Bin, right-click on your desktop and select Personalize. Click the Change desktop icons link at the left side of the Personalization window that appears. Uncheck the Recycle Bin checkbox to hide the Recycle Bin from your desktop.

recycle bin tips

You can also hide the Recycle Bin and all other desktop icons on your Windows desktop by right-clicking the desktop, pointing to View, and unchecking the Show desktop icons checkbox.


Change The Recycle Bin’s Icon

From the Desktop Icon Settings window above, you can also change your Recycle Bin’s icons to personalize Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools What does it mean to customize your computer? Does it mean to have the coolest looking desktop? Well, that’s part of it, but not completely. First off, you want your desktop to be functional. Not... Read More your Recycle Bin. Select the Recycle Bin icon, click the Change Icon button, and browse to an image file you want to use. You can set separate icons for an empty Recycle Bin and a full Recycle Bin.

To undo your change in the future, select the icon and use the Restore Default button. Note that your Recycle Bin icons will change if you select a different theme The Best Free Windows 7 Themes You Might Want to Try Want to customize your Windows desktop with a different look? Check out the best free Windows 7 themes you can use. Read More in Windows – to prevent this from happening, uncheck the Allow themes to change desktop icons option here.

recycle bin tips

Rename The Recycle Bin

In addition to the Recycle Bin’s icon, you can also change the Recycle Bin’s name. Just right-click the Recycle Bin on your desktop and select Rename. You can name the Recycle Bin anything you like.

recycle bin tips

Change The Recycle Bin’s Sound

If you don’t like the sound that plays when you empty your Recycle Bin, you can set a custom sound – or disable the sound entirely. To do so, click the Sounds icon at the bottom of the Personalization window. (Right-click the desktop and select Personalize to open it.)

Select the Empty Recycle Bin sound under Windows Explorer and select your preferred sound. You can choose from one of the sounds Windows includes or browse to your own sound file. You can also change entire sound schemes to select a preferred set of sounds for Windows – or disable all sounds entirely.

better recyle bin

Investigate a Computer’s Recycle Bin

Rifiuti2 is a computer forensics Investigate Or Troubleshoot Computer Systems With OSForensics [Windows] Read More tool for analyzing the contents of a computer’s Recycle Bin. Run it and it will dump information about the deleted files in the Recycle Bin – their names, deletion times, original paths, and sizes – to a file for analysis. Note that you’ll need Cygwin installed to use this command-line tool. This won’t be useful for most users, but if you’re interested in doing some forensic analysis of a computer’s Recycle Bin, it’s a useful tool.

How do you customize your Recycle Bin? Do you know any other tricks? Leave a comment and share your knowledge!

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  1. harley
    March 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I once hid my recycle bin (hated it on my desktop) using a program or tweak which I can't think of now. My son was working on my computer and couldn't find the recycle bin and I couldn't tell him what I did to it. I now make a note of what program I used to do stuff like this, but I really like the idea of Minibin & Microbin.

  2. Frank Zedmore
    December 10, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Woah! I didn't think you could do so much with a trash can...

  3. Anonymous
    December 4, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    hi hi. i am mad at having these small and useful tools. thanks

  4. Benjamin
    November 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    i dont know how to say how much i appreciate by your great articles. every time i visit your web i stuck in its world for at least an hour. keep it going guys. i love you all.

  5. Brendan Samek
    November 26, 2012 at 12:02 am

    under skip the recycle bin it should say recover not remove

  6. Ian Leong
    November 25, 2012 at 5:17 am

    This is really awesome.. I do not have to stick to the traditional Recycle bin anymore! HA HA! Thanks Chris! :)

  7. Jim Spencer
    November 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Kind of a useful article, just not one that comes up in conversations at the water cooler. Am trying out RecycleBinEx, and it looks like an interesting alternative to the windows recycle bin.

  8. Márcio Guerra
    November 22, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Must confess that I didn't knew this ones... I only use shift-delete to delete permanently and that's all... However, I don't like to add programs just to do a little "whatever" (not so "whatever", I must admit) but not that important... I don't know... From what I've read here, despite thinking that might be useful, I think it is the least useful I've seen around MUO for a while, if not ever...

    Cheers, but thank you anyway!

  9. Keith D.
    November 21, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Interesting. I think I'll give the MiniBin or MicroBin.a try! Happy Thanksging to MakeUseOf and all my fellow readers!

  10. Sukanya Sadhu
    November 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Please publish something about Javascript

  11. Sukanya Sadhu
    November 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Thanks, these are great!

  12. Bernardo Delapasion
    November 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    im fine with my old classic recbin

  13. julio bastos
    November 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

    The weirdest episode for the recycle bin I've ever seen was when a client told me that she used to backup!! She created the files and then erased them to get saved in recycle bin!! Believe it? I was about to clean it up when she told me this. It was the craziest thing I've ever seen on the recycle bin.

    • Netpilot
      November 22, 2012 at 7:26 am

      Wow! That tops my user who used his Deleted Items folder in Outlook to archive emails that he had read but didn't want cluttering his Inbox. We found out only after we decided to enforce a company-wide policy by setting Exchange to automatically delete items older than 30 days from everyone's Deleted Items folders.

      Long story short, he was a VIP and we had to go through a gruesome restoration of his mailbox. To top it off, when we showed him how to create and use a folder named Archive, he complained that moving an email to that folder was so much more difficult than just hitting the delete key to save emails that he wanted to keep. Incredible.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      I've heard about people using the recycle bin for this.

      It's insane, but this is why I will never clear anyone's recycle bin if I'm using their computer.

  14. J. Anthony Carter
    November 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I have a recycle bin that always shows it is full. When I click on it and tell it to empty the bin I hear the sound associated with it's emptying but it never clears out unless I shut my PC down and restart like when I'm done for the day. How do I get it to show itself as empty when I click on it to be emptied?

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      I've never encountered this issue before.

  15. Martin Ristovski
    November 20, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Great tips! I only knew about the icon change and hiding it.

  16. Kamran Hassan
    November 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    The MiniBin and MicroBin tricks are just brilliant with their flawless integration into the windows UI.

  17. Edward Bellair
    November 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    We all have a mission in life. I never really thought about the recycle bin.

  18. Arron Walker
    November 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Some pretty good tools here. I'm going to try RecycleBinEx, it sounds really useful. I uses fences to organise my desktop, so the system tray icon is of no use to me.

  19. Easton Wiki
    November 20, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Woah cool! Recycle bin in tray. I like that ,thank you

  20. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I changed the icons as part of my customization week, and have tried to hid it a while ago.
    Aside of customization, I schedule CCleaner to run every two days so I still have the chanceto recover if I deleted something accidentally. Much better than skipping the recycle bin entirely.

  21. Douglas Mutay
    November 20, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Microbin and Minibin seems to be very good app! will give them a try! Thanks for sharing!

  22. vineed gangadharan
    November 20, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Nice software,,thanks for sharing...

  23. RG
    November 20, 2012 at 3:53 am

    I made $20000 emptying recycle bins ... kidding :)

    Definitely good tools, never heard of the system tray one and it's probably the best of the tricks.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks for making me laugh!

  24. Terafall
    November 20, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Microbin and Minibin are a good app.It allows me to use recycle bin even if I hide my recycle bin

  25. antony
    November 20, 2012 at 3:15 am

    try "erasure" from "the erasure project" for a right click to the recycle bin that gives encrypted deletes

  26. Adam Campbell
    November 20, 2012 at 2:49 am

    good tips, I had no idea...

  27. Shirley Lim
    November 20, 2012 at 2:17 am

    wow, I didn't know there is a variety of tools & tricks for a humble (yet digital) bin! Thanks for sharing! :)

  28. john schmitt
    November 20, 2012 at 12:55 am

    I ALWAYS uncheck the delete confirmation. It's so annoying.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      You and me both! Saves me so much time and annoyance.

      • LovesFLSun
        November 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm

        Shaka Brah!! Hang Loose!!

  29. Yang Yang Li
    November 20, 2012 at 12:42 am

    I knew most of the options available for the recycle bin. What I hoped was that it could be pinned to the windows notification bar. Too bad it requires a program and I do not enjoy cluttering up my computer with programs.

    • Arron Walker
      November 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      He says they're quite lightweight though, why not give them a try?

    • Tina
      November 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks for the heads-up regarding the spam comment that got through!

      • Yang Yang Li
        November 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm

        You are welcome! I wanted the spam commenter to know that MakeUseOf has a very active community of readers that doesn't tolerate spam. I personally hate spam comments because they detract from the overall experience of reading an article.

        • Tina
          November 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm

          Totally agree! That's why we not only moderate comments, but also scan all comment threads. In addition to catching spammers, it also helps us keeping conversations constructive and getting a feel for what the community is interested in.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      It's super lightweight at least, especially Microbin.