How-To Geek

Disable Deletion of the Recycle Bin in Windows Vista

One of the changes in Windows Vista was the easy way to remove the Recycle Bin from the desktop (simply right-click and delete)… unfortunately this sparked a new problem where unwitting users started deleting the Recycle Bin instead of Emptying it and were unable to figure out how to restore it.

This has become such a big problem that I’ve received dozens of emails asking how to prevent deletion of the recycle bin. In fact, one reader was so angry with me because he couldn’t stop himself from repeatedly deleting the Recycle Bin that he ended up calling me a bunch of names (which I found somewhat humorous).

What we’ll do is disable this menu item using a small registry hack. The item will still show up, it just won’t work anymore.


Unfortunately the user can still click on the icon and use the Delete button on the keyboard, but we can’t do anything about that.

Manual Registry Hack to Disable Delete Item

Open up regedit.exe through the start menu search or run box, and then browse down to the following key (might be easiest to search for it)



You’ll want to first create a new key called “Shell” on the left hand side, then a key named “Delete” under that, and then another key named “command”. Set the default value of the Delete key to “Delete”, and then set the default value of command to “rundll32.exe”.

What we’re doing here is creating a new function called Delete that replaces the current command on the menu. By setting it to run rundll32.exe, we’re eliminating any error message by running a valid process (that will immediately exit and the user will never see it).


The only visible change you’ll notice is that the Delete menu item will move above the Empty Recycle Bin item.

Downloadable Registry Tweak

Simply download, extract, and double-click on DisableRecycleBinDelete.reg to enter the information into the registry. There’s also an included EnableRecycleBinDelete.reg file that will set it back to normal.

Download DisableRecycleBinDelete Registry Hack

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 06/10/08

Comments (14)

  1. Urichhai

    For my people I remove it from the desktop and put it in quick launch that keeps most away from it. then set disk clean up to run once a week.
    that way nobody needs to bother with it and if they do dump something it will stay in RB for a week.

  2. The Geek


    I agree… I don’t like it on the desktop at all, but some people really want it there.

  3. Urichhai

    thats why i put it in the quick launch bar

  4. Rupertsland

    Thanks for that valuable tip. :-)

    Having a “Delete” command appear in the shortcut menu for the Recycle Bin is another fine example of “user interface friction” in Windows Vista.

    Well, if such a feature has to exist and be made accessible via the Recycle Bin shortcut menu, why didn’t Microsoft just simply name the command “Hide Icon” instead of “Delete”? Regardless, I feel this feature should not appear in the shortcut menu in the first place.

  5. jd2066

    This just goes to show that you can’t please everyone.
    I remember before Windows Vista came out reading tweaks to add delete to the “Recycle Bin” menu.
    Now the delete item is added to the “Recycle Bin” in Windows Vista by default and people want to get rid of it.

  6. The Geek


    Couldn’t agree with you more. :-)

  7. Paul

    To save all that hassel, you might want to enable “Do not move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted”. Just curious, what names did he call you?

  8. al

    Totally agree with Rupetsland. We accidentaly delete the recycle bin when thinking of deleting the contents; I have been close to do it very often. While I understand why Microsoft came out with the delete feature I can not understand why they do not fix it. It is comun sense just to change the command name but Microsoft could not care less apparently.

  9. Michael

    When you want to get rid of a file or unwanted email. What do you do? You right click the item, then select “delete” on the pop-up submenu. So the average Joe or Betty would become accustomed to the command “delete.” Oh but wait… the files are still in the recycle bin. So let’s delete them from there too. Joe (or Betty) click the recycle bin, then LOGICALLY select “delete” again. Oh my! What happened to my recycle bin?!

    This is common sense fellas. The inconsistency is bound to confuse folks, and I’m sorry, but not everyone is a computer geek who can remember exceptions. I agree that Microsoft should have not used the “delete” option, but rather “hide icon” or “remove.”

  10. Hamige

    Much easier:

    Set or import this kind of a delete command for the recycle bin:


    This hides the “Delete menu item unless you press Shift while opening the context menu. And, if you do press Shift, and then choose the Delete item, only an error message will occur, saying that no association had been set.

  11. xscess

    @ Hamige

    sorry for the dumb question… but where do i put “Extended”=”” ?? I got the part to create the Delete key under Shell but then I’m lost…

    many thanks.

  12. Kevin

    I put my Recycle Bin in the Rocket Dock

  13. Angel

    Oh my goodness, thank you so much for this. I swear I’m not retarded, but half the time I don’t read the little pop up that asks if I really want to do something, and I just click ‘yes.’ Then POOF, there goes my recycle bin, and I have to track it down in my control panel. So much easier to just disable it and make it stop altogether. Thanks again!

  14. Misterstan

    Why not simply replace “Delete” with “Remove Recycle Bin From Desktop”?

    Could this change be made via Regedit?

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