by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 28, 2016)
One of the primary purposes of Windows, as an operating system, is to keep track of all the files and folders that may be created and stored on various media connected to your computer. Typically this means tracking files and folders on disk drives of one type or another. Over time Windows may be called upon to manage thousands of files and folders. (They seem to proliferate as you add and use various programs.)
This means that at some point or another you'll need to delete files or folders from your system. There are a couple of ways you can do this. The first (and perhaps the easiest) is to just select the object (or objects) and press the Delete key on your keyboard. Depending on where the items are located, Windows may ask you if you are really sure you want to do the deletion.
Another way to delete a file or folder is to drag it to the Recycle Bin, which is typically on your desktop. Click on the item once, hold down the mouse button, and drag it to the Recycle Bin. When you release the mouse button, the items are deleted.
Speaking of the Recycle Bin, you should understand that when you delete items—regardless of how you do it—you are only moving them to the Recycle Bin. That means you can later find them and recover them, if desired. (Well, you can do so until you empty the Recycle Bin. Then the items are officially "deleted" and removed from your system.) Items only end up in the Recycle Bin if they are actually on a disk drive attached to your system. If you are deleting items on a network drive, then they are generally not moved to the Recycle Bin; they are permanently deleted.
Of course, Windows also tracks permissions for files and folders, and you need to have the right permissions to be able to do the deletions. If you don't have the right permissions, then Windows informs you that you can't delete the item. If this is the case, the solution is to log out and make sure you log in with an account that does have the permissions (like the administrator's account). If the file or folder you are trying to delete is on a shared network drive, then you may need to contact your network administrator about deleting the item.
This tip (6165) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.
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