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How to Empty Recycle Bin in Windows 10

information   Information
The Recycle Bin provides a safety net when deleting files or folders. When you delete any of these items from a hard disk, Windows places it in the Recycle Bin and the Recycle Bin icon changes from empty to full.

If you have multiple hard drives, partitions, or an external hard drive connected to your PC, each location will have its own $Recycle.Bin and Recycle Bin settings. Removable drives, such as USB flash drives and memory cards, will not have a Recycle Bin. Files deleted from removable drives are permanently deleted.

Each user account on the PC will have their own separate Recycle Bin, and will be referenced by their Security Identifier (SID) in each drive's $Recycle.Bin.
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Items in the Recycle Bin still take up hard disk space and can be undeleted or restored back to their original location. When the Recycle Bin of a drive reaches its maximum storage size, Windows will automatically permanently delete (empty) older files in the Recycle Bin location to accommodate the most recently deleted files and folders.

When you manually empty the Recycle Bin, all files in the Recycle Bin will be permanently deleted to free up disk space.

This tutorial will show you different ways on how to empty Recycle Bin for your account or all accounts in Windows 10.

Note   Note
Please feel free to share and post any other way you like to empty the Recycle Bin without using 3rd party software.


CONTENTS:
  • Option One: To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and all drives from Recycle Bin desktop icon
  • Option Two: To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and all drives from File Explorer Navigation Pane
  • Option Three: To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and all drives from File Explorer Ribbon
  • Option Four: To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and specific drive in Disk Cleanup
  • Option Five: To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and specific or all drives in PowerShell
  • Option Six: To Empty Recycle Bin for all users and specific drive in Command Prompt





Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10 OPTION ONE Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10
To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and all drives from Recycle Bin desktop icon

1. Right click or press and hold on the Recycle Bin desktop icon, and click/tap on Empty Recycle Bin. (see screenshot below)

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Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10 OPTION TWO Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10
To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and all drives from File Explorer Navigation Pane

Note   Note
This option is only available if you have set to show all folders in the navigation pane, or added the Recycle Bin to the navigation pane.


1. Right click or press and hold on the Recycle Bin in the navigation pane, and click/tap on Empty Recycle Bin. (see screenshot below)

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Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10 OPTION THREE Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10
To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and all drives from File Explorer Ribbon

1. Open the Recycle Bin.

2. Click/tap on the "Recycle Bin Tools" Manage tab, and click/tap on Empty Recycle Bin in the ribbon. (see screenshot below)

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Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10 OPTION FOUR Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10
To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and specific drive in Disk Cleanup

1. Open Disk Cleanup.

2. If you have more than one drive or partition on your PC, then select the drive you want to empty the Recycle Bin for, and click/tap on OK. (see screenshot below)

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3. Check the Recycle Bin box, and click/tap on OK. (see screenshot below)

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4. Click/tap on Delete Files to confirm. (see screenshot below)

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Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10 OPTION FIVE Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10
To Empty Recycle Bin for your account and specific or all drives in PowerShell

Note   Note
For more usage details of the Clear-RecycleBin command, see: Clear-RecycleBin - Microsoft TechNet


1. Open PowerShell.

2. Enter the command below you want to use into PowerShell, and press Enter. (see screenshots below)

(Empty Recycle Bin for all drives)
Clear-RecycleBin -force -ErrorAction:Ignore


(Empty Recycle Bin for specific drive)
Clear-RecycleBin -DriveLetter <drive letter> -force -ErrorAction:Ignore

Note   Note
Substitute <drive letter> in the command above with the actual drive letter (ex: "C") you want to empty the Recycle Bin for.

For example: Clear-RecycleBin -DriveLetter C -force -ErrorAction:Ignore


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3. When finished, you can close PowerShell if you like.






Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10 OPTION SIX Recycle Bin - Empty in Windows 10
To Empty Recycle Bin for all users and specific drive in Command Prompt

Note   Note
You will need to be signed in as an administrator to be able to do this option.


1. Open an elevated command prompt.

2. Enter the command below you want to use into the elevated command prompt, and press Enter. (see screenshots below)

(Empty Recycle Bin for Windows drive)
RD /S /Q %SystemDrive%\$Recycle.Bin


(Empty Recycle Bin for specific drive)
RD /S /Q <drive letter>:\$Recycle.Bin

Note   Note
Substitute <drive letter> in the command above with the actual drive letter (ex: "C") you want to empty the Recycle Bin for.

For example: RD /S /Q C:\$Recycle.Bin



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3. When finished, you can close the elevated command prompt if you like.

Tip   Tip
The Recycle Bin desktop icon will not automatically refresh to the empty icon using this option.

You can open and close the Recycle Bin to refresh the icon.



That's it,
Shawn