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Hide, Delete, or Destroy the Recycle Bin Icon in Windows 7 or Vista

I’ve never found the recycle bin on the desktop very useful, so I almost always disable it as one of the first things that I do. Windows 7 or Vista has an even simpler way to hide the icon than XP does, but why couldn’t they have disabled it by default?

Deleting in Vista

Just right-click on the icon and select delete from the menu. It’s as simple as that.

delete-recycle-bin.png

Deleting from Windows 7

Right-click on the desktop, choose Personalize, then choose Desktop Icon settings on the left-hand side.

Then simply remove the check from the box:

Note that you can also configure this from the Desktop Icon Settings in Personalization.

If you’ve removed or lost system icons on your desktop, you can restore them easily.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/7/07

Comments (83)

  1. Bernak

    And how do I enable it again?

  2. The Geek

    Go to Personalization in the control panel, and go to the Desktop Icon Settings dialog. You can just put the checkbox back.

  3. Tannish

    If I delete the thing, do I have to worry about Vista keeping track of all changes like the bin does until I “empty” it? Wouldn’t this create a large and useless file eventually?

  4. chrisprice

    Having deleted the recycle bin and then restored it again I notice that it no longer refreshes when I empty it. I can do this manually by hitting F5 but that’s hardly ideal. Any idea how to fix this?

  5. chrisprice

    I just found the solution to my problem which others may find useful….

    HERE IS THE FIX FOR THIS PROBLEM: right click on desktop, got to
    ‘personalize’, then in the left column click ‘change desktop icons’.
    Afterwards, click on the ‘recycle bin empty’ icon and change it with the icon
    that shows the recycle bin full…and do the same for the ‘recycle bin full’
    icon. Click apply. Now when the recycle bin is full it will show empty and
    when empty it will show full. Go back and change them to the normal icons as
    they should be and it will solve the problem

  6. A.J.

    You need to post this fix EVERYWHERE! It took me a while to find it and in looking I found lots of people with the same issue. THANKS!

  7. Jbarnes

    I did what you said about changing the empty and full Icons for the recycle bin but its still shows full when its empty

  8. Jobu

    Thanks Chris! I was dreading the thought that I had ruined that icon until I formatted for whatever reason. Whew.

  9. June C Szucs

    Hi:

    AOL 1.1 has just been installed on my system. I have
    “lost” my Recycle Garbage Can icon.

    Do you have any idea where I can locate it?????

    Thanks.

    June

  10. Ben

    Thank you. The fix confused me at first but when I did what it actually said it worked! When I reread it after fixing the recycle bin it made sense. Much better!

  11. Manny

    COOL!

  12. Rachel

    THANKS A MILLION… man, I thought I was gonna be trashless forever!

  13. coalboy

    Holy.. @#;/#?!!! How did you figure that out mate?!! My recycle bin been screwed since last feb and I’d given up trying to google an answer for it. I tried also various stuff with the icon settings with no luck.. Thanks.

  14. andy

    by me sand nowhere change desktop icons ! help

  15. andy

    by my stand nowhere change desktop icons! help me please

  16. andy

    by me stand nowhere change desktop icons ! help

  17. andy

    oh now i now it thx

  18. andy

    now i have it thx

  19. andy

    thx i have it finaly thx

  20. Lori

    Thank you so much! I was going crazy trying to figure out how to get my recycle bin working right again.

  21. micka

    I deleted my recycle bin icon by an accident and what to restore it back. How to I restore it.

  22. Michael

    I like that Icon

  23. shaggy

    Thanks alot chrisprice your info helped me

  24. Marsvin

    This is pretty funny, the article is about removing the ugly trashcan and all the replies are asking how to get it back :D

  25. Cindy

    Thank you very much to chrisprice and How-to-Geek webpage. Your information helped alot! My recycle bin was easily restore.

  26. AaronStarr

    I uninstalled a demo program today, but Vista left the icon for it on my desktop. Now it won’t allow me to delete teh icon, since it can’t find the file it’s associated with. This makes no sense, and is irritating. I hate icons on my desktop, and useless icons are even worse!

    Any suggestions to force the removal of this icon?

  27. Scott

    Does anybody know how to delete files that are in the recycle.bin? It appears empty, but when I run a report at the command line it shows 2 files in c:\recycle.bin. There is a difference between the recycler and recycle.bin. How can it show as empty, but still have contents in it?

  28. Hermia

    I have the same problem as Aaron, i’m running Vista HP. Anyone got a solution? Thanks

  29. Justin

    Ok How do you delete it do most people don’t pay action or some thing lol i don’t think i ever once thought about deleting it

  30. cheryl

    i have mistakenly deleleted my recycle bin from my desktop and now i cannot find it anywhere. How do i undo this, it was done a day ago. or how do i get it back?

  31. jjk

    Right-click the Desktop, and choose Personalize. Then click on “Change
    desktop icons”, under Tasks (on the left side of the window). Put a check
    next to Recycle Bin.

  32. Lin

    thanks you recycled my bin for me have a great Christmas

  33. hs

    Thanks chrisprice!!!

  34. orbis

    I also deleted my recycle bin…I tried to right click and goto change desktop icons under the task section…nothing happens, any ideas?

  35. orbis

    in fact…many of the options dont work when I click them…weird huh?

  36. Ashley

    Thanks a lot chrisprice, even though you left that message almost a year ago. You were a great help. I’ve been trying to figure that out forever!

  37. ognjen

    thanks for the tip. My recycle bin icon just wanished, and i couldnt find it for days. i found it in the control panel at last. thanks for the tip

  38. Venukanth

    For Vista operating system

    To restore the recycle bin in your notebook please follow the below steps:

    1. Right-click on the desktop
    2. Click on Personalize
    3. Click on change Desktop Icons on the left pane
    4. Check on the Recycle bin icon.
    5. Apply and OK

    To empty recycle bin, right click on Recycle bin icon and click empty recycle bin.

    This should resolve the issue.

  39. Nang

    My recybin bin is always full, even its empty. I have tried to make it empty as the tip above but it dint work.. anybody can help? thx

  40. terrible1812

    great post solve my problem, thanks

  41. carpadz

    Hi guys.. any help from this kind of problem? i accidentally deleted the “RESTORE SYSTEM” icon even in the recycle bin… its getting worst about my computer because i want to restore from the date i install my ms office 2007… things getting worst for it hangs up every 5 minutes.. is there a way to UNDO the “RESTORE SYSTEM” icon again?
    a heaty-thanks for helping me…

  42. Mathias

    Hey chrisprice a big thankx for the solution,I dont know how u got the fix for the solution but its
    awesome how uve fixed the problem.

  43. Jake

    an answer to all the people that, either after startup or on startup, dont see their start menu, any of their taskbar, or any icons:

    Hold Alt + Control + delete and open task manager.

    click “new task” and type “explorer.exe” (no quotes), as this is what worked for me.

    Email me if this comment helped you.

  44. Paul

    If you do it exactyl as he says it works, thanks.

  45. steve

    thanx, you helped me out

  46. kablan

    thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks and thanks a billion times and thank you very much dude

  47. KJG

    I tried to move two .wmv files from the desktop to a CD, but the CD didn’t format — errored — so I ejected it. Now the two icons for the .wmv files remain on the desktop, and when I try to delete them, it says “cannot find files” to delete the icons. Properties says they are both at 0 size, but the icons remain. Anyone know how I can get rid of these icons (they’re not a shortcut) –? BTW, I’m using Vista (ahem…).

    Thanks,

    KJG

  48. dazza

    Why is it that when i delete a file, it still appears in the search results??

  49. brneydgrl

    To those of you who uninstalled stuff in Vista and still have the icon on your desktop…I experienced this too and all it took to fix it was to refresh the desktop. Just right-click on the desktop and select “Refresh” and *poof* the icon goes away…or at least it did for me! Good luck! :)

  50. Lexaga

    I actually have the same question as with Dazza. I deleted a lot of picture files and emptied in recycle bin but still showing in search results but icons only. I don’t want to show it anymore in search results. I’m using Windows Vista.

  51. James

    Lol, I googled how to delete the recycle bin instead of right clicking it. I assumed it would involve deleting registry keys again like on XP.

    Thanks for your help as always HowToGeek!

  52. Renee'

    I did have a problem but thanks to brneydgrl I resolved it. You Rock!!!!

  53. rakett

    Is too bloody simple,I just started searching for tweaks (as I am usually doing in XP) when I found this post.

    Many Thanks :)

  54. Xeogin

    How do you remove the Delete command from the Recycle Bin? I know it goes against what you’d like, but I’d like to prevent if from being “Deleted” that way, the way though Personalization is good enough.

  55. rakett

    I do not know if the delete command can be removed from right click Recycle Bin Menu,even that is removed by misteake,a new shortcut to Recycle Bin can be added to desktop from Control Panel.If you belive that this detail is important you can edit some of your Win Vista files and remove from there this option,but I warn you that this might be difficult and is very time consumming

  56. jd2066

    @Xeogin: For disabling the delete command on the Recycle Bin see http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/disable-deletion-of-the-recycle-bin-in-windows-vista/

  57. Adam

    Well I have XP and I deleted my Recycling bin I need help to get it back and theres so much stuff in it that it’s slowing my computer down help PLEASE!

  58. greggsolomon

    How do I remove Recycle Can icon from desktopn in XP Professional?
    Thank you
    GS

  59. adsg

    brneydgrl
    To those of you who uninstalled stuff in Vista and still have the icon on your desktop…I experienced this too and all it took to fix it was to refresh the desktop. Just right-click on the desktop and select “Refresh” and *poof* the icon goes away…or at least it did for me! Good luck!

    thanks so much brneydgrl!!!! this was a huge help. i am quite pleased.

  60. tina

    how do i delete the stuff in my recycle bin?

  61. Kiara

    thank you so so so so much!!!!!
    i deleted my folder of digital photos about 5,000 of them
    thanks so much for helping me get to my recycle bin
    i was so upset that they were gone
    but thanks again :)!

    Kiara-Marie

  62. Jurgen

    Listen to jjk (november 8.) comments.
    His is simple and spot on.
    Thanks jjk

  63. Andrew Ritz

    Thank you so much, the second blue comment on personalizations worked in seconds.

  64. Ben

    right-click > delete ?
    how is this worthy of an article? ..who couldn’t have figured this out?

    For interest: does anyone know which registry key controls this on Vista? ..
    (i.e. which reg hack will add/remove the bin for you on Vista? – I tried the old XP keys to no effect)

  65. BP

    Thanks Chris. It’s really work!! You are the man!

  66. DLWardle

    Worked instantly–thanks very much.

  67. nobbywebfoot

    Yes fine as far as it goes but please how can I HIDE the Desktop icons temporarily. Also can I place the Recycle Bin icon on the Taskbar instead. It won’t drag and drop as in XP.

  68. doent's matter

    how come there is an empty recycle bin and a full recycle bin? wth????

  69. Mojeer

    Thanks!

  70. gurneet

    i deleted some stuff off my laptop and i deleted it off recycling bin too
    now how do i get it back

  71. saru

    none of the above work on win 7 basic…!

  72. Philip Cole

    I am new to windows 7 and cannot permantly delete recycle bin icons from my usb memory stick files.
    for example. I have an empty usb memory stick, plut it into my laptop, select computer and the usb stick, and now it’s not empty, it has a recycle bin icon in there. Delete it, repeat the process and back it comes.
    How can I stop this happening?

  73. vamsi

    thank u so much for keeping this article this was very helpful

  74. Amol Shinde

    Dear All,

    I am facing the problem with Recycle bin.Which is not showing on my desktop. Even its also not showing in this path mention below.
    Right click on desktop\properties\Desktop\Costmise desktop.
    There is only showing the icon 1) MY computer 2) My documents & 3)My network places by I cant showing My Recycle bin. Please help to resolv this problem.

    regards.
    Amol Shinde

  75. Pav

    thankss very much

  76. tasha

    thanks i find wat i was looking for

  77. nisanth

    very,…..thankzzzzzzzzzzz

  78. rex

    hi is there any way how youre going to disable your recycle bin completely in your system?? i am using windows 7 ultimate.. i just hate to see a garbage can..

  79. Roger

    Cheers Guys, great job you do !

  80. thanks

    thanks dude :D :D

  81. Kanra

    if you don’t have a recycle bin, all your junk will build up until your harddrive dies because off too much stuff on it.

  82. WTF

    DID ANYONE VER FIGURE OUT HOW TO REMOVE RECYCLE BIN ICON FROM DESKTOP ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????/

  83. Nikky

    THANK YOU!!!

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