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Chapter 3. Managing Files > Deleting and Undeleting Files and Folders

Deleting and Undeleting Files and Folders

Eventually, your computer will become full of files, and you'll 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 XP doesn't really delete a file or folder; instead, it moves it to the Recycle Bin. If needed, you can retrieve the file or folder from the Recycle Bin. This common task is also covered in this section.

tip

You can have Windows clean up files as part of your maintenance routine. See Chapter 18 for information on using the Disk Cleanup wizard.


Deleting a File or Folder

Follow these steps to delete a file or folder:

1.
Select the file or folder you want to delete.

2.
Click Delete this file. You are prompted to confirm the deletion (see Figure 3.7).

Figure 3.7. Before deleting, Windows XP prompts you for confirmation.


3.
Click Yes to confirm the deletion. Windows removes the file or folder, placing it in the Recycle Bin.

tip

You can also press the Delete key to delete a selected file or folder. As another option, right-click the selected file or folder and then select Delete from the shortcut menu.


Undeleting a File

Sometimes, you will 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'll see the contents of the Recycle Bin, including any folders, icons, or files you have deleted (see Figure 3.8).

Figure 3.8. The Recycle Bin includes any files and folders you have deleted.


2.
Select the file or folder you want to undelete.

3.
Click Restore this item in the Task pane. The file or folder is then moved from the Recycle Bin back to its original location.

4.
Click the Close button to close the Recycle Bin.

tip

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 first, before emptying it.)


Emptying the Recycle Bin

The contents of the Recycle Bin take up disk space, so you should periodically empty it. The icon changes if it contains something, so you can tell by looking at it whether or not it is empty. You can permanently delete the contents by emptying the Recycle Bin. However, 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 Empty the Recycle Bin in the Task pane. Windows displays the Confirm Multiple File Delete dialog box, prompting you to confirm this action.

4.
Click Yes to empty the Recycle Bin.

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