Delete files you don't need

If you don't get rid of or recycle things in your house from time to time, you eventually run out of room. This is true for your computer as well. Whether it's a digital picture with everyone's eyes closed, an outdated resume, or a song you're tired of, at some point everyone needs to delete files. Deleting a file removes it from your computer and frees up space for more files, just like getting rid of old clothes and shoes frees up room in your closet.

To help you avoid accidentally deleting a file, Windows automatically moves a deleted file to the Recycle Bin, rather than removing it from your computer. You can then choose to restore it from the Recycle Bin or permanently remove it by emptying your Recycle Bin. The sections that follow describe how to delete files and use the Recycle Bin.

Note: The following types of files are not placed in the Recycle Bin:

  • Files stored on removable disks
  • Files stored on network drives
  • Files deleted from compressed (zipped) folders

How to delete a file

1. Select the file you want to delete then press the DELETE key or right click on it and select "Delete".

2. When prompted, click "Yes".

When you delete a file, Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, and Win7) moves it to the Recycle Bin so you can recover it later, as described in the Restore a file from the Recycle Bin article. If you want to permanently remove a file, empty your Recycle Bin.

Tip: To bypass the Recycle Bin when deleting a file, hold down the SHIFT key while pressing DELETE. When prompted, double check then click "Yes" to remove the file permanently from your computer.