Permanently Deleting a File

by Barry Dysert
(last updated February 2, 2015)

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), 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.

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

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

MORE FROM BARRY

Deleting a Saved Search

Windows Explorer has a good search utility built into it. As you use it, you may wish to delete a previously saved search ...

Discover More

Understanding the Task Scheduler

If you want to have a program run at a certain time or when a specific system event occurs, you'll want to understand the ...

Discover More

Checking for Faulty RAM

Although it's rare for RAM to go bad, it does happen. This tip tells you how to check for faulty RAM by using the Windows ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Where Is that File I Just Downloaded?

Downloading files from the Web is a pretty common occurrence. Keeping track of your downloads used to be a bit of a problem, ...

Discover More

Understanding ZIP Folders

Need to move a lot of information to someone else? The answer may be to store that information in a ZIP folder. Here's the ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of Hidden Thumbs.db Files

A hidden file that the system uses to speed performance of your viewing folders containing pictures is called Thumbs.db. ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

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}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. 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 three minus 2?

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


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.