How to Open Recycle Bin in Windows 11 (and More)

In this post, you’ll see:

Let’s get started.

How to Open Windows 11 Recycle Bin

Method #1

Open the File Explorer by pressing Windows + E.

In the address bar at the top, type recycle bin and click the OK button.

Or you can use the first arrow in the address bar of the File Explorer. The Recycle Bin will now appear. Click on it.

Method #2

Open the Run by pressing Windows + R.

Enter shell:recyclebinfolder and then press Enter.

That’s all.

You can use this command in the Task Manager too (click File > Run new task to use the command).

In Windows PowerShell and Command Prompt, you must use the command start shell:recyclebinfolder to open the Recycle Bin.

Method #3

Open the Start menu by pressing the Windows key.

When you type recycle, the Recycle Bin app will appear in the search results. Click on it.

Method #4

The methods above show you how to open the Recycle Bin without a desktop icon. Here’s how to open it with a desktop icon:

Double-click on the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop. If you don’t already have one, you can add one by following the steps in the next section.

Method #5

Open the Run by pressing Windows + R.

Type shell:desktop and press Enter.

Double-click on the Recycle Bin to open it.

How to Create a Recycle Bin Shortcut on Desktop in Windows 11

Open Settings by pressing Windows + I.

Hit Personalization on the left sidebar.

Click on Themes on right.

Hit the Desktop icon settings.

Select Recycle Bin and then hit the OK button.

You should now see the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop.

If you wish to remove the Recycle Bin from your desktop, follow the steps above, but uncheck the Recycle Bin.

Alternatively, you can remove it using the steps below. However, this method will remove the Recycle Bin from both your desktop and File Explorer.

Open the Run by pressing Windows + R. Type gpedit.msc and then hit the OK button.

In the Local Group Policy Editor, navigate to the User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop.

In the right pane, double-click the “Remove Recycle Bin icon from desktop.”

Select Enabled and then hit the OK button.

Sign out and then sign back in.

That’s it.

How to Empty Recycle Bin

Here are the steps to empty Recycle Bin manually:

On the desktop, right-click the “Recycle Bin” icon and select “Empty Recycle Bin”.

In the confirmation pop-up, click “Yes.”

That’s it.

Alternative Methods

Method #1

After opening the Recycle Bin, you can do one of the following:

  • Click the “Empty Recycle Bin” option at the top. Click “Yes” in the confirmation pop-up.
  • Right-click on the blank area and select “Empty Recycle Bin.” Click “Yes” in the confirmation pop-up.
  • Press Ctrl + A and then press the “Delete” key. Click “Yes” in the confirmation pop-up.

Method #2

Open PowerShell.

Type this command: Clear-RecycleBin -Force

Press the Enter key.

That’s all.

Method #3

Open Disk Cleanup.

Select Recycle Bin and uncheck all others.

Hit the OK button.

In the confirmation pop-up, click Delete Files.

Note: You need to do this for every drive on your PC if you have over one.

How to Enable Automatic Deletion of Recycle Bin in Windows 11

Windows 11’s Storage Sense feature automatically deletes content that has been in the Recycle Bin for over 30 days.

Follow the steps below to enable Storage Sense:

Press Windows + I to open the Settings app.

Click System on the left sidebar and then Storage on the right.

Activate the toggle switch beside Storage Sense.

That’s it. Storage Sense will auto-delete content that has been in the Recycle Bin for over 30 days.

Note that I highly suggest you configure Storage Sense, which is below:

Follow steps 1 and 2 above. Now you need to click Storage Sense.

By default, Storage Sense runs when the free disk space is low. If you wish, you can change it, here’s how:

Open the first drop-down list and choose the one you prefer except “During low free disk space.”

If you want to change the default duration of 30 days, follow these steps:

Open the second drop-down list (Delete files in my recycle bin if they have been there for over) in the Configure cleanup schedules section.

The options are Never, 1 day, 14 days, 30 days, and 60 days. Select which option suits you best except the former.

If you want to auto-delete the files in the Downloads folder after not being opened for a certain number of days, open the third drop-down list, and select an option you prefer (except Never).

If you want to run Storage Sense manually, then hit the Run Storage Sense now button.

How to Stop Automatic Deletion of Recycle Bin in Windows 11

You can stop the Recycle Bin from being automatically deleted by following the method below.

Method #1

Click System > Storage in the Settings app.

Turn off the toggle switch next to Storage Sense.

Method #2

Open the Settings app and click System > Storage.

Click Storage Sense.

Select Never in the second drop-down list in the Configure cleanup schedules section.

That’s it. From now on, no automatic deletion of Recycle Bin content will take place.

How to Fix Corrupted Recycle Bin

Try these solutions one by one. I suggest you create a System Restore point before you proceed.

Solution 1

Scan your PC with antivirus software.

Solution 2

Using this method, you can reset the Recycle Bin. Let’s get started.

Open the Run Command by pressing Windows + R. Type cmd, then press Ctrl + Shift + Enter. Click Yes on the pop-up.

You can now see the elevated Command Prompt.

Type this command and then press Enter. Here’s the command: rd /s /q C:\$Recycle.bin

Note that the above command is for the C drive only. If you have other drives on your PC, run the above command for all of them.

Here’s how it’s done: just replace the letter C with the letter of another drive. For example, if I’m doing this for drive D, my command will look like this:

rd /s /q D:\$Recycle.bin

I hope you understand my point.

Restart your PC after you complete all the steps above.

Solution 3

It is here that you will reinstall Recycle Bin.

Every drive has a separate $Recycle.Bin folder. This is a system protected folder that is hidden by default.

The Recycle Bin folder is located here, along with permissions folders.

Follow these steps to see this:

Open the Run by pressing Windows + R. Type control folders and then press Enter.

In the File Explorer Options, navigate to the View tab.

Uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).

Select Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

Hit the OK button.

Then, go to the drive you want, and you’ll see $Recycle.Bin folder.

Now, you need to remove this folder from each drive.

You need to restart your PC after you’ve done that.

Open Run. Type ms-settings:themes and then press Enter.

Hit Desktop icon settings on the right.

Select Recycle Bin and then hit the OK button.

That’s all.

Solution 4

Press Windows + R, type cmd, then press Ctrl + Shift + Enter. Click Yes on the pop-up.

Type the following command and then press Enter. Here’s the command: sfc /scannow

How to Fix Recycle Bin Icon Missing

When the Recycle Bin icon disappears from the desktop, try each of these solutions one by one to restore it.

Solution 1

If there are no icons on your desktop, including the Recycle Bin, try these steps:

Right-click on the blank area on the desktop.

Hover your mouse over the View.

Check that “Show desktop icons” is selected. If there is a checkmark next to Show desktop icons, it is selected.

If you still can’t see the icon, try these steps:

Open File Explorer Options. To do this, open the Run by pressing Windows + R. Type control folders and then press Enter.

Navigate to the View tab.

Select Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

Hit the OK button.

That’s all.

Solution 2

Open the Run by pressing Windows + R.

Type ms-settings:themes and then press Enter.

Now, hit the Desktop icon settings on the right.

Select the Recycle Bin, if not already selected, and then click OK.

Solution 3

By pressing Windows + R, open the Run Command Box. Type control folders and then press Enter.

Navigate to the View tab.

Select Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

Unselect Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).

Hit the OK button.

Open the $Recycle.Bin folder on the C drive.

Right-click the Recycle Bin and then click Send to.

Hit Desktop (create shortcut).

That’s all there is to it. You can now find the Recycle Bin shortcut on the desktop.

How to Fix Recycle Bin Grayed Out in Desktop Icon Settings

Try each solution one at a time.

Solution 1

Open the Run Command Box by pressing Windows + R. Type gpedit.msc and then hit Enter.

In the Local Group Policy Editor, navigate to the User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop.

In the right pane, double-click the “Remove Recycle Bin icon from desktop.”

Select Disabled or Not Configured and then hit the OK button.

Sign out and then sign back in.

That’s it.

Now open the Run Command Box by pressing Windows + R. Type ms-settings:themes and then press the Enter key.

Hit the Desktop icon settings link.

In the pop-up, you can now see that the Recycle Bin is not grayed out.

Solution 2

Press Windows + R to open the Run command. Type regedit and then press Enter. Click Yes in the pop-up window.

You can see the Registry Editor. I suggest you take a backup of the Registry before proceeding.

Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Policies > NonEnum.

Now, you can see the DWORD {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}.

If you do not see it, you will need to create it. To create it, right-click the blank space in the right pane. Select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Enter {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E} and then hit the Enter key.

Double-click on it and enter 0 in the Value data field. Click the OK button.

Restart your PC.

Press Windows + R to open the Run Command Box. Type ms-settings:themes and press Enter.

Hit the Desktop icon settings link.

In the pop-up, you can now see that the Recycle Bin is not grayed out.

How to Show Recycle Bin in File Explorer Navigation Pane

Windows 11’s File Explorer navigation pane (the one you see on the left of File Explorer) does not include the Recycle Bin or Control Panel by default.

Here’s how you can add them to the navigation pane:

Press Windows + E and you can see File Explorer.

Right-click on the space in the navigation pane.

Hit the Show all folders option.

Now you can see the Control Panel and Recycle Bin in the navigation pane.

To reverse, follow the steps above.

Alternate Methods

Method #1

When you press Windows + R, the Run Command Box appears.

Type control folders in it and then press Enter.

Navigate to the View tab in the File Explorer Options pop-up.

Find “Show all folders” and select it.

Hit the OK button.

That’s all.

To reverse, follow the above steps but unselect instead of select.

Method #2

Open the Registry Editor.

Before proceeding, I recommend taking a backup of the Registry.

Go to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Explorer > Advanced.

Locate NavPaneShowAllFolders in the right pane and double-click it.

In the Value data field, provide 0 (to hide) or 1 (to show).

Hit the OK button.

That’s all.

Method #3

Please note that this method only adds the Recycle Bin to the navigation pane. Let’s go through the steps.

Open the Run by pressing Windows + R. Type regedit and then press Enter. Hit Yes in the pop-up.

I suggest you take a backup of the Registry before proceeding.

Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Classes > CLSID.

Hit {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}. If you do not see it, then you need to create it. Here’s how: Right-click on CLSID and then select New > Key. Provide {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E} as name and then hit the Enter key.

Right-click on the blank space in the right pane.

Select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.

Provide System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree as name and then hit the Enter key.

Double-click on it now and then provide 1 in the Value data field.

Hit the OK button.

You can now see the Recycle Bin in the File Explorer navigation pane.

To reverse, you must delete the DWORD or key you created, or change the value of the former to 0.