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This chapter is from the book

Deleting and Undeleting Files and Folders

Eventually, your computer will become loaded down with files you no longer need, and you might find that you have a hard time organizing and storing them all. You can delete any files you no longer need. You can also delete entire folders. When you delete a folder, the folder and all its contents are moved to the Recycle Bin.

Windows Vista doesn't really delete a file or folder, at least not initially; instead, it moves it to the Recycle Bin. While a file or folder resides in the Recycle Bin, if needed, you can still retrieve it. This common task is also covered in this section.

Deleting a File or Folder

Follow these steps to delete a file or folder:

  1. Right-click the file you want to delete and then click Delete.
  2. Confirm the deletion by clicking Yes (see Figure 3.8). The file is deleted and no longer appears in the file list. (The file is actually moved to the Recycle Bin, which you can retrieve; this task is covered next.)
    Figure 3.8

    Figure 3.8 Before deleting, Windows Vista prompts you for confirmation.

Undeleting a File from the Recycle Bin

Sometimes you delete a file or folder by mistake. If you make a mistake, you can retrieve the file or folder from the Recycle Bin (as long as the Recycle Bin has not been emptied) and return the file or folder to its original location. Usually Murphy's Law goes into effect: the minute you delete an old file is a minute before you determine you need it. Don't fret, though, you can undelete a file.

To undelete a file or folder, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop. You see the contents of the Recycle Bin, including any folders, icons, or files you have deleted.
  2. Right-click the file you want to undelete and click Restore (see Figure 3.9). The file is restored to its original location. You can also select multiple files and then click Restore all items.
    Figure 3.9

    Figure 3.9 Use the Restore command to undelete a file from the Recycle Bin.

  3. Click the Close button to close the Recycle Bin.

Emptying the Recycle Bin

The contents of the Recycle Bin take up disk space, so periodically you should empty it. You can permanently delete the contents by emptying the Recycle Bin. Be sure that it doesn't contain any items you need. Follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the Recycle Bin icon.
  2. Check the contents of the Recycle Bin and undelete any files or folders you need.
  3. Click the Empty Recycle Bin in the command bar.
  4. Click Yes to confirm that you want to permanently delete all these items (see Figure 3.10).
    Figure 3.10

    Figure 3.10 To make sure you do want to permanently delete these files, you are prompted to confirm this action.

If you are sure the Recycle Bin doesn't contain anything you need, you can also right-click the Recycle Bin icon and then select the Empty Recycle Bin command from the shortcut menu. (It's usually best to open and check the contents of the Recycle Bin before emptying it.)

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