Permanently Deleting a File

Written by Barry Dysert (last updated June 28, 2021)

By default, most files that you delete from your system are not physically deleted. Instead, they are moved to the Recycle Bin. This is so you can recover a deleted file if you later discover that you actually needed it. However, if you're sure that you truly want to permanently delete a file (thus bypassing the protection the Recycle Bin affords you), it's easy to do.

If you're using Windows Explorer (Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8 and Windows 10), there are a couple of ways to delete a file. One way is to select the file (i.e., single-click the file name) and press the keyboard's Delete key. Another way is to right-click the file and select Delete from the Context menu. In either case, the file is moved to the Recycle Bin. If, instead, you want to permanently delete the file, just hold down the Shift key when performing the delete. The file is permanently deleted and not stored in the Recycle Bin.

There is a known problem in Windows whereby using the keyboard to do a Shift+Delete doesn't always permanently delete the file. This can be troublesome, especially if the file you're trying to delete is very large. There seems to be no such problem, though, permanently deleting the file by holding Shift and deleting the file via the Context menu.

You should also be aware that if you use the command prompt, any files you delete from there will not end up in the Recycle Bin. They will, instead, bypass the bin and be permanently deleted.

 This tip (12430) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...

MORE FROM BARRY

Disabling a Laptop's Touchpad

If you never use your laptop's touchpad, you may want to disable it so that you don't accidentally effect unintentional ...

Discover More

Understanding Windows Slide Show

If you have folders containing pictures, you may want to display them in a slide show. This tip explains how to do it.

Discover More

Renaming Files Using the Command Line

The rename command can really be a timesaver over trying to do the similar sort of thing with Windows Explorer. You can ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Renaming Multiple Files at the Same Time

It's possible to rename multiple files at the same time, but the new names of the files may leave a bit to be desired. ...

Discover More

Showing File Extensions

All file types have an extension, and Microsoft hides them by default. Learn how to turn file extensions on.

Discover More

Using Robocopy to Mirror Directories

It's simple to use Robocopy when dealing with entire directories. Dealing with directories is what it does best! This top ...

Discover More
Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 5 - 0?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Newest Tips