How to Recover a Deleted Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin is useful for Windows devices as it’s a convenient way to remove data without immediately deleting it. But what happens if it’s missing or has been deleted? Fortunately, there are ways to get this convenient feature back, and it’s not as complicated as you may think.

How to Recover a Deleted Recycle Bin

Keep reading this article to learn more about recovering a deleted Recycle Bin on Windows devices.

Restoring the Recycle Bin on Your Desktop

There are a number of ways to restore the Recycle Bin to your desktop. Keep in mind, though, that the steps may vary depending on your Windows version.

Re-Enable the Desktop Icon on Windows 10/11

The Recycle Bin icon can be disabled on the Windows operating system. This may be necessary in cases where you need your desktop to be clean but don’t want the icons discarded. If the Recycle Bin is no longer on your desktop, you can re-enable it with the steps below.

  1. Launch your PC and right-click on an empty space on the desktop.
  2. Choose “Personalize” from the options given.
  3. Under “Personalization,” select “Themes.”
  4. On your right, you’ll see related settings. Select “Desktop icon settings.”
  5. Find Recycle Bin and make sure that it’s selected with a tick. If not, select it and hit “Apply.”
  6. Click “OK” to save the new settings.

Alternatively, you can use these steps to restore the Recycle Bin icon:

  1. Choose the Windows key on your keyboard or go to the start menu.
  2. Type the word “Theme” and hit “Enter.” Or you can choose “Themes and related settings” in your search results.
  3. Navigate to “Related settings” and select “Desktop icon settings.”
  4. In the resulting window, tick the “Recycle Bin” box. This enables its icon on your desktop.

Restore Recycle Bin on Windows 8 and 8.1

For those still using Windows 8/8.1, you can also restore the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop.

  1. Open your Windows PC.
  2. Right-click on any empty space on the desktop screen.
  3. On the resulting menu, choose “Personalize.”
  4. Select the “Themes” option.
  5. Go to the “Desktop icons settings” option and select it. It’s located on the left pane.
  6. Check if the “Recycle Bin” box has been ticked. If not, tick and select “Apply.”
  7. Choose “OK” to finalize the steps.

Restoring the Recycle Bin on Windows 7 and Windows Vista

If you’re a user that loves the nostalgia of Windows 7 and Vista, or you just haven’t gotten around to upgrading your operating system, there’s good news: you can restore the Recycle Bin icon too. Follow the steps below to get started:

  1. Right-click on any empty desktop space.
  2. Scroll down to “Personalize.”
  3. Go to the “Desktop icons settings” option and select it. It’s located on the left pane.
  4. Find the Recycle Bin option and make sure the box is checked.
  5. Tap “OK.

Find the Recycle by Using Windows or File Explorer

The Recycle Bin can be accessed using file manager in newer Windows versions or Windows Explorer if you are on an older operating system. On the newer Windows 10 and 11 versions, follow these steps:

  1. Click the start menu and enter “Control panel” to open the Control Panel.
  2. Choose “Appearance and Personalization.”
  3. Under the file explorer options, click “Show hidden files and folders.”
  4. Ensure the “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” is unchecked. If not, you need to uncheck it.
  5. Make sure “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” is checked in the same window. Check it if it’s not.
  6. Choose “Apply” and finalize your actions by clicking “OK.”
  7. Open the Windows file explorer app and locate the storage device root file whose Recycle Bin folder is corrupted.
  8. Double-click on the Recycle Bin icon.

Turn off Tablet Mode

The tablet mode was introduced in newer Windows versions to make laptops touch-friendly. If this mode is enabled, an app opens in full screen. This ends up reducing desktop icons and taskbar. In such a scenario, you may find it hard to access the Recycle Bin. However, the tablet mode can be turned off.

  1. Select the “Windows + I” keys. This automatically opens settings.
  2. Go to “System.”
  3. Choose “Don’t switch to Tablet mode” under the “When I use this device as a tablet” menu.

Repair Any Damaged System Files

A missing Recycle Bin could be caused by system files that are damaged. However, these can be replaced.

  1. On the start menu, type “command prompt.”
  2. Launch the Command Prompt as an administrator by right-clicking and selecting “Run as administrator” from the menu.
  3. Enter the “sfc/scannow” command and choose “Enter.”

This system file checker utility automatically scans and restores any corruptions found in the system files.

Reasons for a Disappeared Recycle Bin

Your Recycle Bin didn’t just disappear without reason. Check out the list below and see if any of these scenarios sound familiar.

  • Changes in the configuration: Configuration changes could make you lose the Recycle Bin in some cases. You could try different options to restore it if you accidentally triggered the disappearance when you made changes in your system.
  • System corruption: This happens when essential files in your system get corrupted. The good news here is that when system files are damaged, they can be repaired. This is a relatively easy thing to achieve with the correct information.
  • A malware attack: If there is a malware attack on your system, a lot of things could go wrong. This includes a disappeared Recycle Bin with all its contents.
  • Accidental deletion: If you have administrator privileges on your Windows PC, it’s easy to delete the Recycle Bin as a folder. If this happens, you may need to get data recovery software.


Where did my Recycle Bin go?

If your Recycle Bin disappeared, it is likely within your data in a protected system named “&Recycle.bin.” This is on your main drive. You can also take steps to restore the Recycle Bin as outlined above.

Don’t Miss Out on Recycle Bin Benefits

The Recycle Bin is an essential part of the Windows system. It allows users to keep their system clean and recover files that may have been deleted erroneously. The sudden disappearance of the Recycle Bin can be frustrating, but it can be restored no matter how it disappeared in the first place.

Have you ever had to deal with a deleted Recycle Bin? How did you recover it? Let us know in the comments section below.

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