HomeHome : Monthly Tips : Apr 2024

Empty Your Trash or Recycle Bin (Automatically)

April 2024 — Tip of the Month

It's April, which means it's time for spring cleaning!

Spring is a good time to clean your house — and your computer. In the past, I've suggested cleaning up your Desktop and clearing out your Downloads folder, and maybe you've done these things. But when was the last time you emptied your Trash (or Recycle Bin if you're a Windows user)?

The Trash and Recycle Bin are commonly overlooked storage areas in macOS and Windows. We often "delete" files by dragging them to the Trash or Recycle Bin, only to leave them sit there for weeks or months at a time. I'm not going to mention names, but some people don't empty their trash for years. Gross.

OK, old files don't start to rot or smell. But they do take up disk space. If your computer has a hard drive, you might notice things slow down after the drive gets about 80% full. An SSD performs better at 80%, but you'll still notice a slow down as it nears capacity. And when it's almost full, you'll start getting disk write errors and won't be able to install new software.

The Trash and Recycle Bin are helpful since they provide a buffer between the time you decide to delete a file and when you actually delete it. They make it more difficult to accidentally delete a file. Even I rarely empty my Trash right after moving a new file to it. But it's good to empty it at least every month so it doesn't get out of control.

▶ You can right-click the Trash and Recycle Bin to empty them. Just select Empty Trash in macOS and Empty Recycle Bin in Windows.

Empty your Trash / Recycle Bin Automatically

In macOS, you can configure the Finder to automatically empty the trash every 30 days. Simply Select Finder → Settings... and click the box next to "Remove items from the Trash after 30 days.

Empty the Trash Automatically in macOS

In Windows, you can use "Storage Sense" to automatically empty the Recycle Bin. Simply open the Settings app, then select Storage Sense. Make sure Storage Sense is turned on, then choose when Windows should automatically delete files in the Recycle Bin (set to 30 days by default).

Empty the Recycle Bin Automatically in Windows

- Per Christensson