It's time Windows 11 got rid of this trashy feature

Someone putting a some trash branded as Windows 11 into a bin.
(Image credit: Shutterstock / lovelyday12 / Microsoft)

Microsoft has poured a lot of energy into making Windows 11 one of its cleanest-looking operating systems to date, but one Reddit user has pointed out that it could have gone further – and we completely agree. 

U/hyperactiverobot created a concept video in which the Recycle Bin can be moved to the taskbar, allowing Windows 11 users to drag unwanted files down onto it if they still want to preserve its functionality. It also allows quick access to mass-deleted unwanted data for good without hogging any of your precious desktop space.

its_time_to_move_the_recycle_bin_to_the_taskbar from r/Windows11

Right now, your options are to either leave it fixed onto your desktop as highlighting the application and pressing delete won't remove it alone. Or you can choose to unpin the recycling bin from the desktop by right-clicking the Windows 11 desktop, selecting “Personalization,” and then heading into “Themes”.

After that, select “Desktop Icon Settings” and a window will appear that allows you to uncheck “Recycle Bin” from the list of applications that are fixed to your desktop.

The icon for the Recycle Bin has been a fixed part of the desktop ever since Windows 95 was released 26 years ago (known as 'Trash' back then), but the way that people like to use their computers and laptops is changing. For some, a desktop space with no visible icons is preferred, especially if you like to use features like live wallpapers on Wallpaper Engine, or set your favorite photographs as your background.

Opinion: is this a feature anyone still uses?

When I saw the concept I had two immediate thoughts wash over me: firstly that this was preferable to the Recycle Bin being on the desktop space or absent entirely (which I'll touch on in a moment), but this was closely followed by "does anyone still drag/drop files into it?".

I'm assuming that some folks do, out of habit if nothing else, but it's much quicker to simply click or highlight your unwanted files en masse and... press the 'Delete' key on your keyboard. It all goes to the same place after all.

The nuisance isn't how you get your files into the bin though; it's remembering to clear it out. If you're like me, you can be forgetful and emptying the files from the Recycle Bin isn't set to a schedule on the off chance that I need to restore a file in an emergency (unless you're a very well-planned person. If so, hats off to you). In fact, I only just cleared my bin for the first time in months because I saw this concept feature.

Removing it from your eyeline entirely if you're as susceptible as I am to forgetting to empty it manually shouldn't cause issues, but it's nice to have it easily accessible in case you need to rummage through and find files you've accidentally deleted.

If you do want to set your Recycle Bin to self-empty on a schedule then you can head into "System", scroll down and click “Storage.” From there, click into the “Storage Management” section, click “Storage Sense” where you'll find an option called “Automatic User Content Cleanup.”

Enable this and then you'll have an option to run not just Storage Sense on a schedule (a feature that automatically cleans up unused files and downloaded data to free up disk space), but also set a timeframe for how often the Recycle Bin should self-empty.

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.