How to Immediately Delete Files on Windows

by | Feb 21, 2019 | Windows

Want to get rid of a document without sending it to the trash first? Find out here how to immediately delete files on Windows.

First, a Tree Goes Down the Drain 27,000 Times

every day as toilet paper, reported National Geographic Magazine in 2010. They assumed, it seems, some 40 sheets—sic!—per person and day.

Sometimes, of course, it makes sense to eliminate things on more direct a route. Let us, for instance, find out how to send files straight down the Windows drain without turning them into toilet paper first or hoarding them in a trashcan:

How to Immediately Delete Files on Windows

To immediately delete a file in Windows 10 (without the file being moved to the Recycle Bin folder):

  1. Click on the file you want to delete with the right mouse button.
    • Tip: You can select more than one file, of course, then click on one of them with the right mouse button to irrevocably delete them all with a single command.
  2. While holding down the Shift key, select Delete from the context menu that has appeared.
    • Windows keyboard shortcut: You can also press Shift Del.
    • Alternative: You can also click the downward-pointed triangle beneath Delete on the Windows Explorer Home toolbar ribbon and select Permanently delete from the menu that appears.
  3. Now click Yes under Are you sure you want to permanently delete this file?.
    • Important: Beyond this point, recovering the file or files will be very difficult!
    • Tip: If you are immediately deleting more than one file in one go, click Yes under Are you sure you want to permanently delete these __ items instead.
    • Note: Without pressing Shift, the dialog reads Are you sure you want to move this file to the Recycle Bin?.

How to Immediately Delete Files on Windows: FAQ

Can I disable the confirmation dialog for permanently deleting a file in Windows?

No (and yes).

No, you cannot disable having to confirm permanently deleting a file while still normally using the trash as a safety net.

To avoid multiple prompts, do try to select files and delete them in bulk. Only one confirmation dialog will appear for all files’ immediate deletion. As an alternative, do disable the Windows 10 Recycle Bin temporarily.

Yes, you can disable both the trashcan and confirmation dialogs for deletion. This will delete all files immediately and permanently without further confirmation. See below.

Can I disable the Windows Recycle Bin altogether?

Yes, you can make Windows perform all deletions immediately without moving files to a trash folder first.

To delete files irrevocably (optionally without further confirmation) in Windows 10:

  1. Click on the Recycle Bin folder with the right mouse button.
  2. Select Properties from the menu that has appeared.
  3. Make sure Don’t move files to the Recycle Bin is selected under Settings for selected location.
    • Note: Each drive has its own trash folder in Windows 10. Do select each disk and drive under Recycle Bin Location.
  4. To disable the confirmation dialog as well as the trash folder, make sure Display delete confirmation dialog is not checked.
    • Important: This will make all file deletions immediate and final. It is usually best to choose this combination of settings only temporarily.
  5. Click OK.