Recycle Bin is one of the few icons that is present by default on a new Windows 11 desktop. It will always remain on your desktop because, unlike other icons, the Recycle Bin icon is undeletable.

Deleted files aren't truly removed until the Recycle Bin is emptied. Anyone with access to your computer can easily open the Recycle Bin on your desktop and see its sensitive contents.

If your Windows 11 desktop is cluttered with too many icons, hiding Recycle Bin and removing other useless icons from your desktop is an easy way to go for a cleaner look. If you use rarely Recycle Bin or don’t want it cluttering your desktop, here’s how you can hide or remove Recycle Bin on Windows 11.

Hide the Recycle Bin Icon in Windows 11

Unlike in Windows 7 and Windows 10, Microsoft has hidden the Desktop Icon Settings in Windows 11, making it harder for the average user to find it. Here's how you do that:

  1. Open Windows Settings and go to the 'Personalization' section. Then, click 'Themes' on the right. Alternatively, type desk.cpl ,,5 and press Enter.
  1. On the Themes settings page, click on 'Desktop icon settings'.
  1. In the Desktop Icon Settings window, untick the 'Recycle Bin' under Desktop icons and click 'Apply'.
  1. Then, click 'OK'.

Turn Off All Desktop Icons

If prefer a clean desktop, you can also hide all the icons from your desktop, including the Recycle Bin. You can bring back the icons any time you want. Hiding icons can protect sensitive files from curious eyes on a shared computer.

  1. Right-click on any empty space on your desktop and select 'View'.
  1. Then, click on the 'Show desktop icons' option to toggle off. 

This will hide the recycle bin along with everything else on the desktop, including icons and files. However, doing this will only hide the icons not delete them. You can still access your deleted items from the Recycle Bin in the File Explorer.

Change Group Policy to Remove Recycle Bin in Windows

With the Group Policy Editor, you can tweak a variety of important settings and policies on your PC. In our case, it can also be used to remove the Recycle Bin icon from the desktop.Here are the steps to do so:

The Local Group Policy Editor is only available to Windows 11 Pro, Windows 11 Education, and Windows 11 Enterprise editions.

  1. Press Win + R to open the Run command box. Type 'gpedit.msc' and press Enter to launch the Group Policy Editor.
  1. Within the Group Policy Editor window, navigate to the following location in the left pane:
User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop
  1. Then, find and double-click the 'Remove Recycle Bin icon from desktop' policy.
  1. Now, select 'Enabled' and click 'Apply' to save the changes.
  1. Then, click 'OK' and restart your PC. After restart, the Recycle Bin icon will disappear from the desktop.

Modify Registry Values to Remove Recycle Bin Icon

For advanced users, editing the registry offers another option for removing the Recycle Bin icon. While the Local Group Policy Editor is not available in Windows Home Edition, you can use the Registry Editor to hide the Recycle Bin icon from your desktop or permanently remove Recycle Bin from the desktop. Here's how:

  1. Open the Run command box with Windows+R, type 'regedit', and Enter.
  1. In the Registry Editor, make sure to back up the registry before proceeding to the steps. You can easily use the backup to restore the Windows registry if anything goes wrong.
  2. To back up the entire Windows Registry, click the 'File' menu and click 'Export'.
  1. Select 'All' at the bottom left corner of the Export window, enter a name for the backup, and click 'Save'.
  1. After making the backup, navigate to the following location:
  1. Under the HideDesktopIcons folder, right-click the 'NewStartPanel' folder and select 'New' then 'DWORD (32-bit Value)'.
  1. Then, name the new DWORD as {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}. This is the GUID that defines the Recycle Bin's visibility on the desktop.
  1. Now, double-click the newly created '{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}' and set the value data to 1. Then, click 'OK'.
  1. After that, we need to create the same DWORD value within the 'ClassicStartMenu' key. So, right-click the 'ClassicStartMenu' folder under the 'HideDesktopIcons' key on the left panel and select 'New > DWORD' Value.
  1. Then, rename the new DWORD to {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}.
  1. Double-click the registry value from the previous step and set its value to 1 as well, and click 'OK'.
  1. Once it's done, restart your computer, and the Recycle Bin should no longer be visible on your desktop.

If you wish to show the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop again, navigate back to the GUID’s Value Data from steps 6 and 9 and set their values to 0.

Accessing the Hidden Recycle Bin

While you might not see your Recycle Bin on the desktop anymore, that doesn't mean it's gone forever. Unlike deleting files, removing the Recycle Bin icon doesn't actually delete the bin itself, it's simply hidden.

Your deleted files are still safe and sound inside the Recycle Bin, even if you can't see the Bin. You can still recover files from the Recycle Bin, just like before.

There are three easy ways to access your hidden Recycle Bin:

Using the Search Bar: Open the Start menu or taskbar search bar. Type 'Recycle Bin' and press Enter. The Recycle Bin will appear, ready to be used.

Navigate with File Explorer: Open File Explorer, type 'Recycle Bin' in the address bar and press Enter. This will directly open the Recycle Bin.

Using Run command: Open the Run command box, type sell:RecycleBinFolder and hit Enter.

Once you've opened the Recycle Bin, you can browse through the deleted files, restore any you accidentally deleted files, or permanently empty the bin if it's overflowing with trash. Even if you've already emptied the Recycle Bin, some data recovery software can still bring back lost files, depending on how long ago they were deleted.

So, the next time your Recycle Bin vanishes, remember that it's simply hidden. Use these simple methods to find it and access your deleted files whenever you need them.

Skipping the Recycle Bin to Delete Files Permanently

Hiding the Recycle Bin can prevent accidental deletions, but remember, you'll need to empty it manually when needed.

If you are really concerned about your privacy and don't want anyone to access your deleted files, you can adjust the settings to skip the Recycle Bin altogether and permanently delete files immediately. This setting can be applied on a per-drive basis, allowing you to customize how files are deleted for different drives. Here's how:

  1. Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop and select 'Properties'.
  1. In the Recycle Bin Properties window, you'll find options for each of your drives (e.g., C:, D:).
  2. For each drive where you want to enable immediate deletion, select the drive and select the 'Don't move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted' option below. This setting applies to individual drives, not globally. 
  1. Click 'Apply' and then 'OK'.

From now on, when you delete files on those drives, they'll be permanently removed without being stored in the Recycle Bin first. Files deleted from drives without this setting will continue to be moved to the Recycle Bin, allowing you to recover files anytime.

If you need to recover permanently deleted files, you'll need to use backup software or data recovery tools, as they won't be in the Recycle Bin. So, use this setting carefully, especially for important files or drives.