Removing Temporary Files

Written by Eric Wyatt (last updated December 21, 2020)

To aid programs, Windows offers a dedicated space for those programs to write files, as needed, while you are using the program. This location is known as the Temporary folder. The Temporary folder, as the name suggests, exists as the location for programs to write temporary, yet necessary, files related to the operation of the program on your machine.

With the name "Temporary," one would assume that the files are there only temporarily. In fact, that is exactly what is supposed to happen. When you close the program, all the temporary files a program creates should be removed by that program. This, however, does not always happen. Sometimes a computer program does not remove the temporary file for one reason or another. If the programs on your computer could write temporary files anywhere they wanted, you could have hidden files taking up precious storage space all over your system, and you would never know. This is why Microsoft created the Temporary folder—so you can find those files in a single location.

If you find that your system is running low on storage space, an excess of undeleted temp files could be a possible culprit. To quickly empty your Temporary folder, follow these simple steps.

  1. Launch the Run prompt by pressing Win+R. This opens the Run window.
  2. Type "%Temp%" (without quotes) and press Enter. Windows opens the Temporary folder.
  3. Press CTRL+A to select all the files and folders, then press Delete. Windows deletes all the files in the Temporary folder.
  4. Close the Temporary folder window.

A few things to note: First, if you have just installed any programs that require a restart, it is recommended that you restart your system before you delete the temporary items, as sometimes the installation holds temporary files until it finishes rebooting. Second, if items are left in the Temporary folder after you tried to delete them, Windows has determined, for some reason, that those files are still in use, even if it appears that you're not running any programs.

These quick steps will allow you to remove any temporary files that are not needed by your computer. This can potentially save valuable disk space on your system.

 This tip (13814) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Eric Wyatt

Eric Wyatt is a swell guy (or so his friends tell him). He is a formally trained designer and branding expert, bringing a wide range of skills to his Tips.Net articles. ...

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