By default, Windows will send the files to Recycle Bin whenever you delete them. Over time, there will be plenty of deleted files and folders accumulated in your Recycle Bin thus wasting the valuable storage space. If you do not have time to manually cleanup Recycle Bin, then there is a shortcut available for you in Windows 11. You can simply schedule the cleanup so that the content will be deleted automatically without your intervention.
Schedule Recycle Bin Cleanup
Follow the below steps in Windows 11 and you do not any third-party apps for this purpose.
- Right-click on Start menu in Taskbar and select “Settings” option.
- This will open Settings app and navigate to “System” section from left sidebar.
- Scroll down on the right pane and click on “Storage” option.
- Click the button to turn on “Storage Sense” option showing under “Storage Management” section.
- After turning it to on position, click on the “Storage Sense” option to view further details.
- Check “Automatic User content cleanup” heading and turn the button showing below to “On” position.
- Now, all the available options will be opened for editing and check the value set for “Delete files in my recycle bin if they have been for over:”.
- By default, Windows will use 30 days for scheduling automatic cleanup of your Recycle Bin content.
- Click the dropdown and select from 1 day, 14 days, 30 days or 60 days.
- This will allow Windows to automatically run the cleanup job after every 1, 14 or 30 or 60 days and delete all Recycle Bin content. If you want to use Storage Sense but do not want to automatic Recycle Bin cleanup, then select “Never” option.
Note: Similar to cleaning up Recycle Bin, you can also setup cleanup schedule for your “Downloads” folder. This option is useful if you have the habit of frequently downloading files and leaving them unattended after using.
Permanently Deleting Files
By default, you can select a file/folder and press “Delete” key to send the file/folder to Recycle Bin. You will not see any confirmation prompt when doing this. However, what if you do not want Windows to send deleted files to Recycle Bin? Simply select the file/folder and press “Shift + Delete” keys together to permanently delete it. This time you will see a confirmation prompt as this is a permanent deletion.
Though this is useful to save storage space when deleting larger files, remember that there are no ways to recover them as they will NOT be sent to Recycle Bin.
Cleaning Up OneDrive Recycle Bin
If you are automatically syncing content to OneDrive, the files deleted from automatic backup locations1 will be going to both computer’s Recycle Bin as well to OneDrive’s Recycle Bin. In this case, Windows will show you a different warning that deleting from OneDrive will remove the file from all your devices. This prompt will appear regardless of whether you delete or use “Shift + Delete”. It means the deleted file will always go to computer and OneDrive Recycle Bin which you can’t bypass.
Since free OneDrive offers only 5GB free storage and you need to pay for additional storage, all deleted files will be automatically removed after 30 days from OneDrive storage. You do not need to schedule any cleanup for this.
Remember, cleaning up your computer’s Recycle Bin will NOT delete the files from OneDrive account. As you can seen in the below picture, OneDrive still keeps all my deleted files though I have already emptied my system Recycle Bin.
This means you can still recover and restore the files even after you cleanup your computer’s Recycle Bin. If you want to immediately delete the files from OneDrive Recycle Bin2 also, go to your OneDrive account and click “Empty Recycle Bin” option. Alternatively, go to “Manage Storage” section in your OneDrive account and click “Empty recycle bin” link showing below the summary section. Confirm the action with “Delete” button to permanently remove the files from OneDrive.
- OneDrive backup locations include Documents, Pictures, Desktop, Music and Videos folders. It does not include folders like Downloads.
- You can go to this URL and login with your Microsoft account to check your OneDrive’s Recycle Bin content. ↩︎