How to Remove the Recycle Bin From a Windows Desktop

You can't delete it, but you can hide the Recycle Bin with a Windows setting

What to Know

  • In Windows 11/10: Settings (WIN+i) > Personalization > Themes > Desktop icon settings.
  • In Windows 8/7/Vista: right-click desktop > Personalize > Change desktop icons.
  • Uncheck Recycle Bin and press OK to hide it from the desktop.

This article explains how to hide the Recycle Bin from your Windows desktop. It also shows how to open it if you need to even though it's hidden, plus how to set it up so files are removed instantly when you delete them (i.e., they skip the Recycle Bin completely).

How to Remove the Recycle Bin From a Windows Desktop

These instructions work in Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista; Windows XP directions are further down the page.

  1. Right-click the desktop and select Personalize.

    In Windows 11 and Windows 10, open Settings (WIN+i) and then Personalization > Themes.

    Windows 11 Personalization settings
  2. In Windows 11 & 10, select Desktop icon settings from the Related settings area.

    In Windows 8, 7 & Vista, choose Change desktop icons.

  3. Uncheck the box next to Recycle Bin, and then select OK to save.

    Windows 11 desktop icon settings

Another way to remove the Recycle Bin is to hide all your desktop icons. Following those steps will make the Recycle Bin disappear, as well as every other file, folder, or icon you have on your desktop.

Windows XP Directions

Windows XP is similar in some ways to newer Windows versions, but it's missing the option to hide the Recycle Bin. For that, we'll instead go into the Windows Registry to make a small change.

Use this time to back up the registry. If unintended changes are made while you're in there, a backup will let you restore the registry to the way it was before it was edited.

  1. Open Registry Editor. The quickest method is to go to Start > Run > regedit > OK.

  2. Use the folders on the left to navigate to this path:

  3. Select this key so it's highlighted:

  4. Go to Edit > Delete.

    Windows XP registry editor
  5. Select Yes on the confirmation box about deleting the key.

The change should take effect immediately; just refresh the desktop (right-click > Refresh) to see it disappear. If it doesn't, restart your computer.

To get the Recycle Bin back on the desktop in Windows XP, either restore the registry backup (only do this if you want it back immediately after hiding it) or repeat the steps above, but this time create a new registry key in the NameSpace key and name it the same string you deleted in Step 3.

You Can Still Open the Recycle Bin If You Don't See It

Despite Recycle Bin no longer showing up on the desktop, it's not actually gone. This is because there isn't an option within Windows to completely delete it.

This means you can still open it to view deleted files and restore deleted files from the Recycle Bin. It also doesn't affect your ability to recover files already emptied from the Recycle Bin.

To access the hidden Recycle Bin, simply search for it from the taskbar, or change the File Explorer location to Recycle Bin.

Recycle Bin location in File Explorer

If you prefer the command line, you can enter this in the Run dialog box to instantly open the Recycle Bin:


How to Skip the Recycle Bin to Delete Files Immediately

Hiding the Recycle Bin makes it a little harder to empty, but it's a task you'll need to do if you're running low on disk space.

If you don't have plans to ever open the Recycle Bin in the future, or you want to keep your deleted files a bit more private, you can edit the bin's settings so the items you put into the Recycle Bin delete instantly. To be completely clear: The Recycle Bin will empty itself each time you attempt to move an item there.

Here's what to do:

  1. Right-click the Recycle Bin icon and choose Properties from the menu.

    If you've already hidden the icon, follow the steps above that explain how to access it, then right-click the empty area in the Recycle Bin window, and then choose Properties.

  2. If you see multiple locations in the list, choose the Recycle Bin location you want to edit.

  3. Select Don't move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted.

    Windows 11 recycle bin properties

    Windows XP's name for this option is a little different: Do not move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted.

  4. Select OK to save.

  • How do I add the Recycle Bin to Windows desktop?

    You can add the Recycle Bin back to your Windows desktop by following the same steps as above (for each version of Windows). Except instead of unchecking the box next to Recycle Bin, check it to turn it on.

  • How do I pin the Recycle Bin to my Taskbar in Windows 10?

    Make sure the Taskbar is unlocked, then right-click the Taskbar and select Toolbars > New Toolbar. When you're asked to select a folder, enter "%appdata%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch" and click Select Folder. Hide text and titles, set icons to Large, then click-and-drag the Recycle Bin directly to the Taskbar.

  • How do I change the size of the Recycle Bin?

    In Windows 10 and 11, select the Recycle Bin Tools tab in the top bar of the Recycle Bin. Then select Recycle Bin properties and choose how much space you want to allocate for each hard drive on your PC.

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