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Gone But Not Forgotten: Restoring a Missing or Deleted Recycle Bin

Updated on June 16, 2013
Dektop Icon Settings.
Dektop Icon Settings.

The Recycle Bin is the trash can icon on your Windows desktop that represents a temporary storage area for deleted files. Double-clicking this icon opens up the Recycle Bin window, which contains all the items you’ve deleted. You can either restore one or more items to their original locations, or delete them permanently by emptying the Bin.

If the icon is missing from your desktop, you may have accidentally deleted it, or your desktop may have never contained it in the first place. Many systems now ship with this feature disabled. You can restore the Bin by doing the following in Windows 7:

  1. Verify that the Recycle Bin is missing and not just buried among other icons. Click the Start button and choose Computer to show the Computer window.
  2. Click Desktop in the left pane to reveal its contents in the right pane.
  3. Click Name to sort the content alphabetically and scroll through it to ensure that the Recycle Bin is missing. The Bin is typically alphabetized before all the programs, documents and shortcuts on the desktop.
  4. Close the Computer window if the Recycle Bin is really missing.
  5. Click the Start button again and type desktop icons in the Search box at the bottom left of the popup.
  6. Click Show or hide common icons on the desktop to display the Desktop Icon Settings dialog box. This is illustrated in the photo above.
  7. Click a checkmark into the Recycle Bin checkbox of the Desktop Icons group. (This is marked in red in the photo above.) Then click the OK button to close the dialog box and restore the Recycle Bin.

If the Recycle Bin is still missing or you’re using an earlier version of Windows, you may need to implement a fix introduced by Microsoft. Click here to display that fix in your Internet browser. Then click Fix this problem on that browser page to download and run troubleshooter to restore the Bin.


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi alocsin,

      My Recycle Bin is featured on my Desktop, so I have no need of this information...but for others who do not have it...this is good advice. Also good advice from Brett Tesol's comment. Voted up and useful.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Good advice, Brett. Thanks.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 6 years ago from Thailand

      Good tips for new users! Even if the recycle bin is missing, there is plenty of free 'file recovery software' on the web. Also, if you want to perminantly delete a file, just pres 'Shift' and hold it while you press 'Del' ... the delete will be full and skip the trash can.

      Voted up and useful.

    • Joe Bricky profile image

      Joe Bricky 6 years ago from Northern Nevada

      I do a lot of computer troubleshooting, but still getting used to Windows 7, so thanks. That was something I will log. Voting up.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm glad you found it useful.

    • jennifertaylor91 profile image

      jennifertaylor91 6 years ago from USA

      Great effort and i think the people who wants to know basic fundamental of computer,they will surely prefer this.