Windows uses separate Recycle Bins for each user on your computer. So when you clear the Recycle Bin, it only deletes files of the currently logged-in user. But what if you want to empty the Recycle Bin for all users at once? It’s actually quite simple. In this tutorial, we’ll show you three methods. Follow the one you like. Let’s get started.
Warning: Deleting files from Recycle Bin makes them irrecoverable. Be careful and make sure you are not deleting anything crucial.
Using File Explorer
Start by opening the File Explorer using the “Windows key + E” shortcut. Click on the See More icon on the top bar of File Explorer and choose Options.
Navigate to the View tab, scroll down, and uncheck the “Hide protected operating system files” checkbox. Click Yes in the warning prompt and then click OK.
Choose View > Show > Hidden items option to show all hidden files.
Open the Local Disk (C:) drive, locate the $Recycle.Bin folder, and press the Delete (Del) key on your keyboard.
In the “Folder Access Denied” dialog box, click Continue.
Check the Do this for all current items checkbox and click Yes in the Delete Folder confirmation dialog.
If you have multiple drives, open each drive to delete the $Recycle.Bin folder. For example, if you have a D drive, open it, and delete the $Recycle.Bin folder in it.
Once you’ve deleted the $Recycle.Bin folder from all drives, you’ve successfully emptied the Recycle Bin for all users.
Finally, go back to View > Show > Hidden items to hide the previously revealed files. Navigate to See More > Options, go to the View tab, and check the “Hide protected operating system files” checkbox. Click OK.
Using Command Prompt
Press Start, type Command Prompt, right-click on it, and choose Run as Administrator.
In the Command Prompt window, type
rd /s C:\$Recycle.Bin and press Enter.
Type Y when prompted for confirmation and press Enter.
If you have multiple drives, substitute the drive letter
C with the letter corresponding to another drive and run the command again. For example, if you have a D: drive, run
rd /s D:\$Recycle.Bin command.
Once you delete the $Recycle.Bin folder from all drives, the Recycle Bin is emptied for all users.
Press Windows key + X and choose the Terminal (Admin) option to open the Windows Terminal with admin rights.
Copy and paste the below command and press Enter to run it.
Remove-Item -Path 'C:\$Recycle.Bin' -Recurse -Force
If you have multiple drives, substitute the drive letter C with the letter corresponding to another drive, and run the command again. Do this for all the drives. For example, if you have a D: drive, use:
Remove-Item -Path 'D:\$Recycle.Bin' -Recurse -Force
Finally, close the Terminal window and you’ve successfully cleared the recycle bin for all users on your computer.
Clear-RecycleBin PowerShell command you see floating around in other tutorials will not work as it only empties the Recycle Bin of the currently logged-in user.
Related tutorial: Empty Recycle Bin automatically