How to Empty the Google Drive Trash

by | Mar 14, 2020 | Useful Tech

Files in the “Trash” count towards your Google Drive storage quota. Find our below how to quickly rid yourself of this burden and empty the trash in Google Drive.

First, Stir Your Morning’s Cup of Tea

Now, look at the Bordeaux-red steamy liquid. Does it look like anything is like it was before?

It has to!

When you stir a cup, Brouwer’s fixed point theorem tells us one spot at least land exactly where previously it was. If you have two sheets of paper on top of each other and crumble the top one, one spot must likewise lie exactly where it was before.

When, finally, you stir earth’s atmosphere, one spot at least must remain still. There should always be, then, a place without wind.

Are you longing for one folder at least in Google Drive that is still and void of files?

How to Empty the Google Drive Trash

in a Desktop Browser

Time needed: 1 minute.

To empty the Trash folder and label in Google Drive using a desktop browser:

  1. Go to the Trash folder in Google Drive.

  2. Click Trash followed by a downward-pointed triangle () in the folder’s header area.

  3. Select Empty trash from the menu that has appeared.

    Empty the Trash in Google Drive

  4. Click EMPTY TRASH to confirm.

    Important: Once removed from the Trash, files cannot be recovered.

in the Google Drive app for iOS and Android

To delete all files in the Trash using the Google Drive apps for iOS and Android:

  1. Open the Trash folder in the Google Drive app.
    Tip: Tap the menu button () to see the list of folders.
  2. Tap the menu button (•••) in the top right.
  3. Select Empty Trash from the menu that has appeared.
  4. Now tap DELETE FOREVER in the dialog that has come up.

How to Empty the Google Drive Trash: FAQ

Can I delete only specific (large) files from the “Trash”?


To permanently delete individual files from the Google Drive trash:

  1. Open the Trash folder in Google Drive.
  2. Click to select the document you want to delete permanently.
    Tip: Hold the Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows, Linux) keys to select multiple files and Shift to select a range.
    Shortcut: Press Command A (Mac) or Ctrl A (Windows and Linux) to highlight all visible files. (Files not yet loaded to the view will not be selected.)
    Note: There is, alas, no way to sort the Trash by size; opening List view will let you see Google Drive file sizes at least, though.
    Hint: You can find the largest Google Drive files not yet trashed, by the way.
  3. Now click the Delete forever icon (Google Drive Trash icon) in the toolbar.
  4. Select DELETE FOREVER to confirm.

Can I empty the trash from my app with Google Drive API?


Google Drive API v3 lets you delete all files in the Trash folder with a single call:

  • With Python, Java, PHP, Objective C, etc:
    Use the emptyTrash method.
  • With a HTTP request (curl):
    Use DELETE with the appropriate authentication.

(How to Empty the Trash in Google Drive tested with Google Drive in a desktop browser and Google Drive for iOS; updated March 2020; title image: StockUnlimited)