How to Delete Files on Windows 11

Delete file

All there’s to know about deleting files, recovering them, and emptying the Recycle Bin on Windows 11.

Windows 11 is the latest iteration from Microsoft that boasts of a user-friendly interface. The opinion may be divided on whether that’s the case, but one thing we will all agree on is that there has been a plethora of changes. From the Taskbar, Action Center, Settings to File Explorer, everything looks fresh and lively.

One of the changes that you might have noticed is that revamped context menu. Right-clicking on a file does not show the same context menu we were used to for all these years. Although it has been changed, the various relevant options still remain, some in the form of tiles while others in the form of icons.

If you plan to delete a file or folder, the option can still be accessed with the same ease, but the steps are a little different. However, the DEL key still works like a charm.

Deleting a File Using Delete Icon in the Context Menu

When you right-click on a file, a new uncluttered context menu with far lesser options pops up. If you can’t find the ‘Delete’ option, here’s how you do it.

To delete a file, right-click on it, and then select the ‘Delete’ icon at the top or bottom of the context menu. The icon resembles a bin and is placed along with those for Cut, Copy, Rename, and Share.

Click ‘Yes’, in case a confirmation box pops up.

Note: A confirmation box pops up only if it has been configured in the ‘Recycle Bin’ properties.

Delete a File from File Explorer Command Bar

On launching File Explorer, you will notice the Command Bar at the top. It’s a quick way to access some of the basic tools including the ‘Delete’ icon.

To delete a file, select it, and then click on the ‘Delete’ icon the Command Bar.

Delete a File from the Legacy Context Menu

After years of working on the old context menu, we don’t expect you to get acquainted with the new one right away, and neither does Microsoft. Therefore, they haven’t completely done away with the legacy context menu and it can still be accessed. Here’s how you do it.

To delete a file, right-click on it to launch the context menu, and then select ‘Show more options’ to access the legacy context menu. Alternatively, select the file and press SHIFT + F10 and the legacy context menu will appear.

Next, click on the ‘Delete’ option to delete the file.

Delete a File using Keyboard Shortcut

You can also delete files and folders on Windows 11 by selecting them and pressing the DEL key on the keyboard. When you press it, the file is moved to the recycle bin.

To permanently delete a file in Windows 11, select the file you to delete in File Explorer and then press the SHIFT + DEL keyboard shortcut. When the confirmation box pops up, click on ‘Yes’ to confirm the deletion of the file. A file deleted this way will not be found in the Recycle Bin.

That’s all there’s to deleting files on Windows 11.


Restore Deleted Files

If you have deleted a file by mistake, you can restore it from the Recycle Bin. However, you should quickly restore it since the recycle bin starts clearing up old files when it’s low on storage space. You can either restore a specific file, a bunch of them, or all those stored in the Recycle Bin at once.

To restore a specific file, launch the ‘Recycle Bin’ either from the Desktop icon or the ‘Start Menu’, right-click on the file and select ‘Restore’ from the context menu.

To restore a few files, hold the CTRL key, click on all the files you want to restore and then click on ‘Restore the selected items’ near the top-right corner.

To restore all the files in the Recycle Bin, simply click on ‘Restore all items’ near the top-right corner. Click ‘Yes’ on the confirmation box that pops up.


Empty Recycle Bin to Permanently Delete Files

The files that you delete land up in the ‘Recycle Bin’ and continue to take up space on the hard drive. If you don’t want them on your computer, you can empty the recycle bin and clear up some space.

To empty the Recycle Bin, click on the ‘Empty Recycle Bin’ option in the Command Bar at the top.

Next, click ‘Yes’ on the confirmation box that pops up.


You now know all there’s about deleting files and folders, recovering them, and emptying the Recycle Bin on Windows 11.