Change Recycle Bin Settings in Windows 10

Windows 10 ships with a level of customizationfeatures that we haven’t seen in many other versions of the operating system.Something completely new to this iteration of Windows is a set of settingsexclusive to the Recycle Bin.

Up through Windows 8, the Recycle Bin just iswhat it is—a container for your deleted files. In Windows 10, we can makechanges to the Recycle Bin force it to behave in several new and useful ways.

For many, we only know to periodically cleanthe Recycle Bin so that it isn’t taking up precious disk space. However, youhave the option to change the maximum size of the Recycle Bin, set the RecycleBin to automatically clean itself after a number of days, or bypass the RecycleBin entirely to just permanently delete any discarded files.

In this article, we’ll explain how to do eachof these three actions on any Windows 10 machine.

How to Change the Maximum Size ofthe Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin has a default storage space ofaround 5% of the total size of your disk volume. With that in mind, let’sassume that you’ve assigned 500 GB of space to your volume. For this volume,the Recycle Bin will begin to automatically permanently delete your oldestfiles when a little over 25 GB of its space has been used.

For the vast majority of users, 5% is morethan enough space in the Recycle Bin. However, you may find yourself in themiddle of an OCD-induced cleaning session where you want to be extra carefulthat anything you’re deleting isn’t gone forever. In this case, you mayconsider changing the maximum size of the Recycle Bin.

To do so, simply right-click on the RecycleBin icon on your desktop. If you don’t have the icon on your desktop, searchWindows for “desktop icons” and clickon the “Themes and related settings”option. On this window, scroll down to “Desktopicon settings”.

Here, you’ll be able to restore the icon toyour desktop.

The Propertieswindow of your Recycle Bin will allow you to set a custom maximum size for eachvolume.

By selecting the “Custom size” radio option, you can enter a maximum size, inmegabytes, that the Recycle Bin can grow to before files begin to permanentlydelete.

How to Bypass the Recycle Bin andDelete Files Permanently

If the Recycle Bin is useless in yourworkflow, you can set the default action for file deletions to completelybypass the Recycle Bin and delete permanently.

You can do so in that same Properties menu when you right-clickthe Recycle Bin icon.

By selecting the “Don’t move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately whendeleted.” radio option, Windows will do just that.

How to Make the Recycle BinDelete Files After a Number of Days

One of the Windows 10 Recycle Bin features that everyone can benefit from is for Windows to clean up after itself. This feature is built into Windows 10’s Storage Sense, which assists users in performing automated clean-ups of their drives. It’s comparable to a native Windows solution for something like CCleaner (which we can no longer recommend).

To begin using Storage Sense to free up yourRecycle Bin’s space after a number of days, press the Windows + I keys to bring up Windows Settings. From there, click onSystem. On this window, click on Storage on the menu to the left. Youshould then be at a window that looks like this:

Here, click on “Change how we free up space automatically”.

On this window, you’ll see a dropdown boxbelonging to the “Delete files in myrecycle bin if they have been there for over” setting. The availableoptions are as follows:

  • Never
  • 1 day
  • 14 days
  • 30 days
  • 60 days

Using the dropdown box to select one of theseoptions will save this change to your Storage Sense’s settings. This changewill apply retroactively, so if you have files that have been in your RecycleBin for 80 days and you opt for Storage Sense to delete them after 60 days,they will be deleted upon applying this change.

While maintaining a healthy Recycle Bin is assimple as a few clicks, it’s appreciated that Windows 10 has offered userssettings to help automate and better control how one of the longest and mostimportant parts of the operating system behaves. These three simple settingsare worth checking out and only take a few seconds of your time!

If you’re interested in learning more ways to clean your Windows 10 machine, be sure to check out our article on running disk cleanup in Windows 10 .