Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Repair the Windows Recycle bin

If you have troubles with your Recycle Bin functioning correctly – preventing you from deleting files (aka “empty”-ing it) – a few simple steps can restore functionality (or a missing icon).

Is the Recycle Bin (Icon) Missing?
This first “repair” is for those of you who no longer see the Recycle Bin icon on your Desktop, and want it back.

  • Click your Start button, and Control Panel
  • Double-click on Personalizations
  • Click on Change desktop icons
  • Click (to place a ‘check’ in) the Recycle Bin checkbox
  • Click Apply, then OK

That will restore the icon to your Desktop. (You can “drag” it to a position of your liking.)

Having trouble with emptying?

1) First, you need to “unhide” (aka “show”) your system files and folders (if they aren’t already. If so, skip to Step 2).

  • Click your Start button, and Control Panel
  • Double-click on Folder Options
  • Click on the View tab and scroll down just a bit
  • Click on the Show radio button
  • Click Apply, then OK

2) Next, Click your Start button, and Computer.

3) Double-click the Local disk (c:) icon.

4) Locate, then right-click on $RECYCLE.BIN, and select Delete. If prompted, click Yes to confirm. (Yes. Delete it. It has been “corrupted”, in Geek parlance, and needs to go away.)

5) The Delete File dialog will appear – click Yes to confirm.

[ Tip: Checking the Do this for all current items checkbox will avoid having to confirm the deletion of each file.]

6) Reboot (aka “restart”) your computer.

Once your computer has started back up, the Recycle Bin will automatically be rebuilt/repaired.

That’s it. You’re done. (Except, maybe, [say, if other people use your computer] you may want to go back to Step 1 and hide the system files and folders again.. to prevent any accidental disastrous deleting.. Your choice.)

Orig post: April 26, 2011

Today’s quote:The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.” ~ B.F. Skinner

January 19, 2012 - Posted by | advice, computers, how to, tech, troubleshooting |


  1. You helped me with this a year or so ago. I filed this article in my “help” folder just in case it happens again.
    Thanks for posting Paul!


    Comment by g | January 19, 2012 | Reply

    • g,
      Hey there g!

      Yes.. things made it so all I had time for was to dust off an “oldie but a goodie” (so to speak). Hope everything is super-groovy with you and yours.


      Comment by techpaul | January 19, 2012 | Reply

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