The files and folders you delete on your Windows PC get saved on the Recycle Bin. These deleted files and folders keep consuming your PC storage until you empty the Recycle Bin folder. Typically, emptying the Recycle Bin is a relatively straightforward process. You just need to right-click the Recycle Bin icon, and the Empty Recycle Bin option appears in the context menu.
But on rare occasions, users find no option to empty Recycle Bin in Windows 10/11. For some users, the Empty Recycle Bin option appears grayed out. If you’re here, you are likely facing similar issues and cannot empty the Recycle Bin on your Windows 10/11 PC. If yes, keep reading, as here we have explained the actual reasons for the problem along with several working fixes.
Let’s start by understanding why the empty Recycle Bin option might be missing or grayed out. The Windows system requires administrative rights for a user to empty the Recycle Bin. So, if you don’t have admin rights on the PC, the Empty Recycle Bin option will appear grayed out for you.
In some cases, the issue occurs when Recycle Bin gets corrupted. Sometimes third-party apps might also prevent you from emptying the Recycle Bin. So, these are a few reasons why the Empty Recycle Bin option might be grayed out on your Windows 10/11 PC.
There are a few solutions available to fix ‘no option to empty Recycle Bin in Windows 10/11’ issue. We have provided a step-by-step guide to follow and implement those fixes on your PC. But before trying one of the fixes, open the Recycle Bin folder and see if some files are there. If there are no files in the Recycle Bin, the empty Recycle Bin option appears grayed out as there is nothing to empty.
If you don’t see the option to empty Recycle Bin in Windows 10/11, the very first thing you should do is update your Windows. Microsoft actively pushes updates to Windows 10/11. The updates include new and updated system drivers and known bug fixes. If the issue was caused due to a bug, updating the Windows should immediately fix it. Below are the steps to update a Windows 10/11 PC.
Step 1: Press Windows + I key on your keyboard to open the Settings app.
Step 2: In the Settings app, click on the Update & Security option in the bottom-left corner. Alternatively, you can click the Windows Update shortcut in the upper-right corner.
Step 3: On the Windows Update page, your PC will start checking for updates. If updates are available, download and install them on your PC.
Once you have downloaded and installed all the updates, check if the Empty Recycle Bin option is appearing for you. If it does, go ahead and empty the Recycle Bin; if not, follow the other suggested fixes.
Recycle Bin is not a separate app on Windows PCs. It is a part of Windows File Explorer. Remember, when you open Recycle Bin, it opens in the Windows File Explorer. So, if you cannot empty Recycle Bin, restarting the Windows File Explorer should help. Below are the steps to restart Windows File Explorer on Windows 10/11.
Step 1: Press Windows + X key to open the WinX menu in Windows 10/11. From the menu options, select Task Manager.
Step 2: When the Task Manager opens, tap on the down arrow icon in the bottom-left corner. It will bring a more detailed view of the Task Manager.
Step 3: By default, you should be in the Processes tab; if not, switch to the Processes tab.
Step 4: In the Processes tab, look for Windows Explorer and right-click on it.
Step 5: A context menu will appear on the screen; from the menu options, tap on Restart. Doing so will restart the Windows File Explorer.
Once done, check if the Empty Recycle Bin option appears on right-clicking the Recycle Bin icon.
OneDrive is a cloud storage service from Microsoft. It is the default Cloud service on all Windows PCs and comes pre-built. Several Windows 10/11 users reported that OneDrive prevented them from emptying the Recycle Bin on their PCs. The solution to this problem is closing the OneDrive app. Once they closed OneDrive, they could successfully empty the Recycle Bin. As the fix has worked for many users, you should also try it. Below are a couple of ways to close OneDrive on Windows 10/11.
You can close OneDrive using the Task Manager. Follow the below steps to do so.
Step 1: Open Task Manager on your PC. You can do it from the Win X menu or by using Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut.
Step 2: On the next screen, tap on the down arrow icon to see more details.
Step 3: Under the Processes tab, look for OneDrive and right-click on it.
Step 4: From the context menu options, click on End Task to close the OneDrive app.
For some reason, if you cannot close OneDrive using Task Manager, then you close it using Command Prompt.
Step 1: In the Windows Search bar, start typing Command Prompt.
Step 2: The Command Prompt app will appear as the best match. On the right side of the screen, select Run as administrator.
Step 3: In the Command Prompt app, type or copy-paste the below command and hit Enter.
taskkill /f /im onedrive.exe
Running the above command will close the OneDrive app on your PC. Once done, check if you can empty the Recycle Bin now.
If closing OneDrive didn’t help, you should try uninstalling it. Below are the steps to uninstall OneDrive on Windows 10/11.
Step 1: Open the Windows Settings app on your PC. You can do it by pressing the Windows + I key on your keyboard or searching for it in the Windows Search bar.
Step 2: In the Windows Settings app, click on Apps.
Step 3: Under Apps, search for Microsoft OneDrive or scroll down the list to find it.
Step 4: Once you find the Microsoft OneDrive, click on it. You will see an Uninstall button; tap on it.
Step 5: A confirmation prompt will appear; tap on Uninstall to remove Microsoft OneDrive from your PC.
Once OneDrive is uninstalled, try emptying your Recycle Bin; you probably shouldn’t face any issues.
We have mentioned in the reason section that the Recycle Bin won’t empty if it is corrupted. You can fix the corrupted Windows 10/11 Recycle Bin by resetting it. Below are the steps to reset Recycle Bin using Command Prompt.
Step 1: Press Windows + R key to open the Windows Run box.
Step 2: Now, type cmd to open Command Prompt.
Step 3: In the Command Prompt app, type or copy-paste the below command and hit Enter.
rd /s /q C:\$Recycle.Bin
Running the above command will reset Recycle Bin on Windows 10. Once the Recycle Bin is reset, the Empty Recycle Bin option will appear, and you will easily be able to empty it.
By trying the above fixes, you can fix Recycle Bin issues and easily be able to empty Recycle Bin on your PC. But what if, after emptying the Recycle Bin, you remember that you had accidentally deleted an important file a few days ago. You try to check your Recycle Bin, but as you have just emptied the Recycle Bin, you will not find the file there.
Now you may curse yourself for emptying the Recycle Bin. But, no need to do so. Instead, you can use Stellar Data Recovery Software for Windows and recover the deleted files in no time. To make things easier, we will provide you with the exact steps to use the software, but before that, let’s take a look at some of its features.
The Stellar Data Recovery Software recovers data from any Windows device, be it desktop, laptop, or tablet. It is fully compatible with all the recent Windows versions, including Windows 10 and 11. Talking about files, you can recover lost photos, videos, documents, emails, and much more. The software supports multiple file formats, including ZIP, RAR, and many more. It supports different storage drives such as pen drives, memory cards, SSDs, hard disks, etc.
As you can see, the Stellar Data Recovery Software checks all the marks for a best-in-class data recovery software. Needless to say, it will be your best bet to recover the lost data in almost all scenarios, including an empty Recycle Bin. On top of all the exciting features, the software comes with a three-step recovery process, making data recovery a child’s play.
Step 1: Download and install Stellar Data Recovery on your PC and open it. On the first screen, you will be asked to select what you want to recover. You can choose multimedia, documents, folders, and emails or select everything to recover all the file types.
Step 2: On the next screen, select the drive from which you want to recover the data. After selecting the drive, tap on Scan. Now the software will scan the selected disk to find the deleted data.
Step 3: The software will show all the deleted data on the selected drive after a few minutes. You can preview the recovered data and select the files you want to recover. Once you are done, tap on Recover to save the deleted files back to your PC.
Yes, it’s that easy to use Stellar Data Recovery software and recover deleted data. The software comes with a free plan which allows you to preview the recovered data. If you are satisfied with the preview and actually want to recover the data, you can buy one of the available plans.
The empty Recycle Bin option comes enabled by default on Windows 10 PCs. You don’t need to do anything extra to enable it. However, if you don’t see the empty Recycle Bin option on your PC, you should try the fixes discussed above in the article.
You can’t delete Recycle Bin if you don’t have administrative rights on your PC. Also, it is possible that Recycle Bin may be corrupted. Lastly, some apps, such as OneDrive prevent users from deleting files from Recycle Bin.
There could be two reasons why Recycle Bin has no icon on your PC. First, you may have accidentally turned off Recycle Bin desktop icon from desktop icon settings, or second, Recycle Bin is corrupted on your PC.
To delete Recycle Bin in Windows 10/11, find the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop. Once you have done that, right-click on it, and select the Empty Recycle Bin option from the context menu.
So, this is how you can fix the empty Recycle Bin option grayed out in Windows 10/11. We have discussed all the possible reasons and working fixes to eliminate this issue. You should start with updating your PC. If it didn’t help, try restarting Windows File Explorer. As the next fix, you can try quitting OneDrive first, and if no luck, uninstall it. Lastly, you can fix a corrupted Recycle Bin by resetting it. Also, if you want to recover some data after emptying the Recycle Bin, we have explained how you can recover it using Stellar Data Recovery software. Anyways, which fix did work for you? Drop a comment and let us know.
Ratnesh is into writing how-to guides and explainers. He spends most of his time reading, writing, and watching tech. In his free time, he loves playing and watching Cricket.
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