The Recycle Bin has been around almost as long as Windows itself, offering an easy way to separate the files you want to keep from those you don't.

However, it's not universally admired, primarily because it means you effectively have to delete files twice before they're removed from your device. 

Many people will appreciate the safety net this offers, but if you'd rather files were deleted instantly, here's how it's done. 

How to skip the Recycle Bin when deleting files 

You can bypass the Recycle Bin for one-off occasions, or set it to always delete items immediately. First up, something you can implement each time you want to delete something:

  1. Open File Explorer, either by searching or clicking the icon in the taskbar
  2. Select a file you'd like to permanently delete and hit Shift+Delete. Alternatively, right-click and hold Shift while clicking the 'Delete' option
  3. You should then get a message saying 'Are you sure you want to permanently delete this file?'. Hit yes to confirm

If you can't see yourself wanting the Recycle Bin for the foreseeable future, there is a more permanent change:

  1. Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon (either on the desktop, taskbar or within the Start Menu) and choose 'Properties'
  2. Under 'Settings for selected location', ensure you select the option which says 'Don’t move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted.'
  3. Hit Apply to confirm the changes
  4. Now, when you delete any file like normal, it will give you the option to permanently delete them

By default, this will be set to the C: drive, although you may have to repeat the process if the Recycle Bin stores files from other locations. 

How to get the Recycle Bin to empty automatically

If removing that safety net is a step too far, you can also set the Recycle Bin to empty itself automatically after a set number of days. 

This gives you some peace of mind should you accidentally delete something important, while at the same time ensuring your PC isn't clogged up with files you don't need. 

By default, it is set to empty after 60 days, but this can easily be customised via the Storage Sense menu:

  1. Head to Settings > System > Storage
  2. Turning off the 'Storage Sense' toggle will stop it from emptying altogether, so it's probably worth clicking the 'Configure Storage Sense or run it now' option
  3. Under 'Temporary files', click the drop-down under 'Delete files in my Downloads folder if they have been there for over' heading and make your choice

While you're here, check out more ways to get the most out of your Windows 10 PC