How to empty the Recycle Bin automatically on schedule on Windows 10

When you click the delete button on a file, you're not actually deleting it from your computer. It only gets moved to the Recycle Bin, which continues to use valuable space on the hard drive.

Even though chances are you already know how to empty the Recycle Bin, you often forget to do such a simple task. Then it's not until you're running out of space that you go through the steps to manually empty the trash to delete all its content for good.

Although there are number of ways you can configure the Recycle Bin on Windows 10 (and previous versions), emptying the trash on schedule is not one of them.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to automatically empty the Recycle Bin using the Task Scheduler to keep the hard drive space optimized, while giving you enough time to recover deleted files.

How to automatically empty the Recycle Bin on schedule

  1. Open Start, do a search for Task Scheduler, and press Enter.
  2. Right-click Task Scheduler Library and click New Folder.

  1. Name the folder My Tasks or anything descriptive. (You want to do this to keep your tasks organized and separated from the system tasks.)
  2. Right-click the newly created folder and select Create task.

  1. On the General tab, enter a name for the task, such as Empty Windows Recycle Bin.

  1. On the Triggers tab, click New to create an action that will trigger the task.

  1. For the purpose of this guide, I'll select and configure On a schedule, but you can pick from a number of trigger actions, including At log on, At startup, On an event, and more.Quick Tip: If you're using the schedule option as a trigger, consider using the Weekly or Monthly option, which will give you some time to recover deleted files.

  1. On the Actions tab, click New.

  1. Under Settings, on Programs/script enter cmd.exe.
  2. Under Settings, on Add arguments enter the following argument and click OK:/c "echo Y|PowerShell.exe -NoProfile -Command Clear-RecycleBin"
  3. Click OK to complete the task.

Once you completed the steps, the task will run automatically at the trigger condition you have configured.

More Windows 10 resources

For more help articles, coverage, and answers on Windows 10, you can visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

28 Comments
  • Normally I don't comment on these kind of stories, but this seems really useful. So thank you!
  • Thanks, I find this one very useful too. As you can imagine I work with a lot of images and software that I download from the internet, so the hard drive fills up pretty quickly, and tip helps a lot.
  • Personally I think it's more useful to use Shift+Del to skip the recycle bin all together.
  • It all depends on what you need, how about if you accidentally delete the file? This guide not only gives you the chance to keep your hard drive space optimized, but you also get a some time to recover files. Thanks,
  • I mean if accidently deleted files are a worry, an auto dump is the worst idea. If size is your issue you can just adjust how much space the recycle bin uses in it's settings and it won't grow any bigger than that.
  • Mauro, thanks alot! I never forget to empty my Bin :-) but it's a great tip, especially for those on devices with less built-in memory (e.g. tablets or SSD storage).
    P.S automatization is the key!
  • I always wondered if it was possible!!! Thanks!
  • This has been available in previous windows versions.  This method is not new.
  • And not everybody knew about it. These type of articles aren't made for the extremely techy people, they're made for the everyday person who wouldn't know about these tips until told about them.
  • And even the techies that don't yet know about this. Never thought about this until they mentioned it today.
  • Hey Mauro, Please make an ebook of all your w10 related tips.
    It would be easy to checkout when offline.
  • Or an easier alternative... add an option to the app to cache articles either on a schedule, or on demand. Then add a section that just shows the cached content.
  • A favorite articles list basically. Great idea.
  • Like W8.1 WC app, offline list feature should be added in w10 WC app. :)
  • Good tut Mauro, this is one's a keeper!
  • Another tip for the recycle bin:
    Right click it and select Properties.
    ​Untick "Display delete confirmation dialogue". ​This removes the "Are you sure you wish to delete this file?" popup :)
  • lately I've found myself working with extremely large temporary files on a daily basis, and the recycle bin can take up tens of gibabytes of space every 2 or 3 days, so this will indeed come in handy for me. Thanks a bunch.
  • Downside with this solution is that scheduler can run right after you deleted a file. This could be tweaked to only delete files of certain age. E.g. use this script: http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/scriptcenter/Delete-files-in-Recycl...
  • Awesome! I was thinking the same thing, so thanks.
  • I've always wondered why Windows couldn't be made to automatically delete the oldest files in the Recycle Bin as it needs the space.
  • It does... ​By default the recycle bin sets a maximum size of space to use, based on drive sizes. When that limit is hit, the oldeset files are removed as new items are deleted.(You can right click on Recycle Bin and adjust how much space it can use before it starts throwing away older files.This is handy if you need it to stay smaller or be larger to retain more longer.) It has worked this way since Win95/NT4. ​Which is why im scratching my as for the reason for this tip. (This is automatic, and has been for 20 years.) In pre-NT days it was advisable to clear the recycle bin to prevent other users from accessing your deleted content. With NT, even this is no longer a reason, as your content is secured to your account on all NTFS drives. ​If there is a reason to use this tip, instead of letting Windows automatically handle it, i would like to know.
     
  • Im not logged in as an administrator and when I finish doing the scheduling I can not hit okay.its greyed out so it's not working. Am I missing something?
  • You have to be an administrator on your pc to create scheduled tasks. Sorry, the author should have mentioned this. See -http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-security/perm...
  • This kind of thing just needs to be built in to the OS
  • it is, and has been for 20 years. ​This article is creating more misinformation than accomplishing anything helpful.
  • this will also work: type powershell.exe in the Program/script: and in the Add arguments (optional): -NonInteractive -WindowStyle Hidden -NoProfile -Command "& {Clear-RecycleBin -Force}"
  • Thanks for the tip Mauro!
  • This just seems like a really bad idea. Don't do this because you will regret it