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Add the Recycle Bin to Start Menu in Windows 7

Have you ever tried to open the Recycle Bin by searching for “recycle bin” in the Start menu search, only to find nothing?  Here’s a quick trick that will let you find the Recycle Bin directly from your Windows Start menu search.

The Start menu search may be the best timesaver ever added to Windows.  In fact, we use it so much that it seems painful to manually search for a program when using Windows XP or older versions of Windows.  You can easily find files, folders, programs and more through the Start menu search in both Vista and Windows 7. However, one thing you cannot find is the recycle bin; if you enter this in the start menu search it will not find it. Here’s how to add the Recycle Bin to your Start menu search.

What to do

To access the Recycle Bin from the Start menu search, we need to add a shortcut to the start menu.  Windows includes a personal Start menu folder, and an All Users start menu folder which all users on the computer can see.  This trick only works in the personal Start menu folder.

Open up an Explorer window (Simply click the Computer link in the start menu), click the white part of the address bar, and, enter the following (substitute your username for your_user_name) and hit Enter.

C:\Users\your_user_name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

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Now, right-click in the folder, select New, and then click Shortcut.

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In the location box, enter the following:

explorer.exe shell:RecycleBinFolder

When you’ve done this, click Next.

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Now, enter a name for the shortcut.  You can enter Recycle Bin like the standard shortcut, or you could name it something else such as Trash…if that’s easier for you to remember.  Click Finish when your done.

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By default it will have a folder icon.  Let’s switch that to the standard Recycle Bin icon.  Right-click on the new shortcut and click Properties.

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Click Change Icon…

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Type the following in the “Look for icons in this file:” box, and press the Enter key on your keyboard:

%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll

Now, scroll and find the Recycle Bin icon and click Ok.

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Click Ok in the previous dialog, and now your Recycle Bin shortcut has the correct icon.

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You can even have multiple shortcuts with different names, so when you searched either Recycle Bin or Trash it would come up in the Start menu.  To do that, simply repeat these directions, and enter another name of your choice at the prompt.  Here we have both a Recycle Bin and a Trash icon.

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Now, when you enter Recycle Bin (or trash, depending on what you chose) in your Start menu search, you will see it at the top of your Start menu.  Simply press Enter or click on the icon to open the Recycle Bin.

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This trick will work in Windows Vista too!  Simply follow these same directions, and you can add the Recycle Bin to your Vista Start menu and find it via search.

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This is a simple trick, but may make it  much easier for you to open your Recycle Bin directly from your Windows Vista or 7 Start menu search.  If you’re using Windows 7, you can also check out our directions on how to Add the Recycle Bin to the Taskbar in Windows 7.

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 03/18/10

Comments (16)

  1. Miki

    Without doing everything that case you can simply drag the icon to the trash icon at the bottom of the Start menu… ;)

  2. SquareWheel

    A good idea. Can shortcuts also be thrown in C:/Windows/ so they can be accessed from Run?

  3. Matthew Guay

    @SquareWheel – I don’t believe this would work. However, you could enter “explorer.exe shell:RecycleBinFolder” in the Run dialog to open Recycle Bin from it.

  4. SquareWheel

    That just rolls off the tongue! I’m a big fan of Run commands, but I don’t think that one will make it into my vocabulary.

  5. exchange

    I never thought of this before. Its a helpful tips for those who is always using the start menu for their files and go to the desktop to empty the recycle bin or retrieve the deleted files.

    Can this be done in XP?

    Cheers!

  6. skraps

    Just nitpicking here but you can change

    C:\Users\your_user_name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
    to
    C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

    This will accomplish the same result without the substitution.

  7. ed

    Got it set up on the 64-Bit, pinned to Start Menu. Thanks.

  8. jonrichco

    Seems good – however MUCH quicker to add the recycle bin to quick launch.

  9. TY

    Great tip! Thanks!!

  10. Aethec

    skraps >> Even better : %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\

  11. AlanWade

    Drag and Drop works for me :)

  12. JAA

    thank you geek !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to find easier recycle bin

  13. Ivydapple

    How about drag-and-drop? :P

  14. Gregg DesElms

    There’s a far easier and faster way.

    Simply hold down the keyboard’s [Shift] key while right-single-clicking with the mouse on the Recycle Bin on the desktop, then release the [Shift] key.

    A context menu will pop-up which should have, as one of its choices, “Pin to Start Menu.” Left single click on the “Pin to Start Menu” choice. The pop-up context menu will close.

    Now left-single-click on the “Start” button, and the recycle bin should be present either at the top; or, if other things are already there, then as the last of them up in that top area.

    Hope that helps!

    ______________________________________
    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  15. Jack

    @Gregg This isn’t working for me at all. I don’t think I could be doing it wrong, the instructions are very simple. =/

  16. bonedog

    Right click Recycle Bin in the Start Menu and click Pin to Taskbar – easy peasy

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