How to Create Shortcuts for Emptying the Windows 10 & 11 Recycle Bin
The Windows Recycle Bin icon on the desktop is a shortcut for opening that repository of deleted files. However, some users may prefer to have a shortcut for emptying that bin instead of accessing it. You can set up different types of shortcuts that enable you to empty the Recycle Bin without opening it first. This is how you can set up Windows 11/10 desktop, taskbar, keyboard, and context menu shortcuts for clearing the Recycle Bin.
How to Set Up a Desktop Shortcut for Emptying the Recycle Bin
You can add a shortcut to the Windows desktop based on a Command Prompt command that empties the Recycle Bin. This will enable you to empty the Recycle Bin by double-clicking the command shortcut on the desktop. Creating a desktop button that empties the bin is also necessary for setting up taskbar and keyboard shortcuts. These are the steps for setting up a desktop shortcut that clears the Recycle Bin:
- Right-click an empty part of your desktop area and select New.
- Click Shortcut to open the wizard for creating desktop shortcuts.
- Copy this empty Recycle Bin command by selecting its text and pressing Ctrl + C:
C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /c "echo Y|PowerShell.exe -NoProfile -Command Clear-RecycleBin"
- Click inside the location of item box and press Ctrl + V.
- Press Next to proceed to the second step for creating a shortcut.
- Input Empty Recycle Bin in the Type a name for this shortcut box.
- Click Finish to add the Empty Recycle Bin shortcut.
Now double-click the Empty Recycle Bin desktop shortcut. A Command Prompt window will briefly pop up for the command execution. Then your Recycle Bin will be empty.
If you would like to add a more suitable icon to that shortcut, right-click its icon and select Properties. Click Change Icons, input %SystemRoot%\System32\SHELL32.dll in the Look for icons box, and press Return. Then you can select a Recycle Bin icon for the shortcut.
Adding a desktop shortcut for emptying the Recycle Bin makes the default one for accessing that bin less necessary. If you don’t want to keep the default Recycle Bin shortcut on the desktop, disable it via the Desktop Icon Settings window. Check out this guide to removing the Recycle Bin from the Windows desktop for further details.
You can also add that command shortcut to the Windows Startup folder. That command shortcut for clearing the Recycle Bin will automatically execute every time Windows starts when it’s included in the Startup folder.
To add it to the Startup folder, right-click the Empty Recycle Bin shortcut and select Copy. Open Run, input shell:Startup, and click the OK button. Then press the Ctrl + V hotkey to paste the copied shortcut into the Startup folder.
How to Set Up a Taskbar Shortcut for Emptying the Recycle Bin
Would you prefer a taskbar shortcut for emptying the Recycle Bin to a desktop one? If so, right-click the Empty Recycle Bin desktop shortcut and select Show more options (for Windows 11 users) > Pin to taskbar. Then you can click the Empty Recycle Bin taskbar button once to eradicate all your deleted files.
The desktop shortcut for emptying the Recycle Bin will no longer be needed if you create a taskbar shortcut with it. You can erase the Empty Recycle Bin desktop shortcut by right-clicking it and selecting Delete (the crash can button on Windows 11’s context menu).
How to Set Up a Hotkey for Emptying the Recycle Bin
Creating a hotkey enables you to empty the Recycle Bin in zero clicks. Instead, you can clear out the Recycle Bin by pressing a keyboard key combination. You can set up a hotkey for emptying the Recycle Bin in these quick steps:
- Add the Empty Recycle Bin shortcut to the desktop as instructed in this guide’s first method.
- Right-click the Empty Recycle Bin shortcut and select Properties.
- Click within the Shortcut key box and press a Ctrl + Alt or Ctrl + Shift key combination for emptying the bin.
- Select Apply > OK inside the Empty Recycle Bin Properties window.
Now press the hotkey you entered the Shortkey key box to empty the Recycle Bin in zero clicks. Remember that the hotkey is assigned to a desktop shortcut that must be kept intact for the keyboard shortcut to work.
The default Recycle Bin desktop shortcut already has an Empty Recycle Bin context menu option. However, you won’t need to keep the Recycle Bin on the desktop if you add an option for clearing the Recycle Bin to the desktop’s context menu with the freeware Context Menu Tuner software. This is how you can set up a new context menu option for clearing the Recycle Bin:
- Open this Context Menu Tuner webpage.
- Click on Download “Context Menu Tuner” at the bottom of that page.
- Open the Windows file management tool (Explorer) to access the folder containing the downloaded Context Menu Tuner ZIP archive.
- Follow the guidelines in this article about unzipping ZIP files to extract Context Menu Tuner’s archive.
- Open the extracted directory Context Menu Tuner.
- Double-click the Context Menu Tuner file to open the software.
- Select Empty Recycle Bin in the left Command sidebar.
- Next, select Desktop in the right box.
- Click the Add button.
- Select the Add to selected item option to add the selected Empty Recycle Bin option to the context menu.
Now you’ll see an Empty Recycle Bin option on the context menu of the desktop. To access it, Windows 11 users will need to right-click any part of the desktop to select Show More options. Click the Empty Recycle Bin option on the classic context menu to clear the bin.
You can also add that right-click shortcut to file and folder context menus. To do so, select Folder or All files in Context Menu Tuner. Then select the Empty Recycle Bin option and click Add > Add to selected items.
Empty the Recycle Bin With These Handy Shortcuts
Creating shortcuts, as covered above, will give you a more direct way to empty the Recycle Bin. Those shortcuts will make the default desktop Recycle Bin shortcut somewhat redundant because you won’t need to access the bin nearly so much. Set up whatever shortcut for emptying the Recycle Bin you like best.