Microsoft

Move the Recycle Bin to the Taskbar in Windows 7

Greg Shultz describes how to put the Recycle Bin on the taskbar in the lower right corner adjacent to the notification area in Windows 7.

After writing last week's blog, "Take Advantage of the Taskbar Features in Windows 7," I found myself focusing on the taskbar to make sure that I was taking advantage of all the features it has to offer. While I was doing so, I began to think about the only icon that I had on the desktop -- the Recycle Bin -- and wonder if there was a way to put the Recycle Bin on the taskbar.

When the Recycle Bin first made its appearance in Windows 95, I really enjoyed dragging and dropping unneeded files on the trash can icon and watching them disappear. It was just so cool! (Keep in mind that was 15 years ago and the drag-and-drop capability was a new feature.)

However, more often than not, the desktop and the Recycle Bin icon were buried behind a bunch of open windows, and as time went by and the operating system evolved, I began using the other methods to delete files. Most often, I would select a file and click the red X Delete button on Windows Explorer's toolbar. I also would right-click on a file and select the Delete command, or after selecting a file just press the [Delete] key on the keyboard. I still use these techniques today as I am sure that most of you do too.

However, there's just something that is innately satisfying about dragging a file to the trash can icon and dropping it in there. My wife says that it must be a guy thing. And then she reminds me of how excited my buddies and I get throwing beer cans halfway across the room to the trash can in the corner on Poker Game nights. We raise our fists in the air and yell "Score!" when someone makes it in.

Anyway, I discovered a way to put a working copy of the Recycle Bin on the taskbar in the lower right corner adjacent to the notification area. That way it is always visible on the screen no matter how many open windows you have on the desktop.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll show you how to move the Recycle Bin to the taskbar.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Working with the Recycle Bin icon

To begin, the Recycle Bin icon must be visible on the desktop. If it is not, right-click on the desktop and select the Personalize command from the context menu. When the Personalization window appears, select the Change Desktop Icons command on the task pane. You'll then see the Desktop Icon Settings dialog box and will need to select the Recycle Bin check box, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

In order to get started, the Recycle Bin icon must be visible on the desktop.

You'll use these steps to clear the Recycle Bin check box later.

Creating the Recycle Toolbar

Now, you'll create a folder that will become a toolbar. To begin, right-click anywhere on the desktop and select the New | Folder command. Once the new folder appears, name it Recycle Toolbar. Then, drag the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop and drop it on the Recycle Toolbar folder, as shown in Figure B. When you do, Windows 7 will create a shortcut to the Recycle Bin inside the Recycle Toolbar.

Figure B

You'll create a shortcut to the Recycle Bin inside the Recycle Toolbar.

At this point, you'll need to move the Recycle Toolbar folder to any folder of your choice. If you implemented the technique I described in the article "Add the Copy To and Move To Folder Commands to the Windows Explorer Context Menu," you can right-click on the Recycle Toolbar folder, select the Move To Folder command, and choose a folder from the Move Items dialog box, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

The Move To Folder command is an easy way to move the Recycle Toolbar folder to any folder of your choice.

You can now return to the Desktop Icon Settings dialog box, as described above, and clear the Recycle Bin check box. When you do, the Recycle Bin icon will no longer appear on the desktop.

Unlocking the taskbar

Now that you have created and then moved the Recycle Toolbar folder from the desktop, you need to unlock the taskbar. To begin, right-click anywhere on the taskbar and select the Lock the Taskbar command to remove the check mark, as shown in Figure D. Doing so will unlock the taskbar.

Figure D

Removing the check mark from the Lock the Taskbar command will unlock the taskbar.

You'll use these steps to relock the taskbar later.

Adding the Recycle Toolbar folder to the taskbar

Now, you're ready to add the Recycle Toolbar folder to the taskbar. Right-click on the taskbar again and this time select the Toolbars | New Toolbar command, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

You'll select the New Toolbar command from the Toolbars menu.
When you see the New Toolbar -- Choose a Folder dialog box, locate and select the Recycle Toolbar folder, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

You'll select the Recycle Toolbar folder in the New Toolbar -- Choose a Folder dialog box.
As soon as you click the Select Folder button, the Recycle Toolbar will be added to the taskbar, as shown in Figure G. Take note of the divider on the left side of the new toolbar.

Figure G

With the Recycle Toolbar on the taskbar, you're almost done.
You'll need to right-click on the divider three separate times and select various options from the context menu in order to complete the next set of steps. First, you'll select the Show Text option to remove the check mark. Second, you'll select the Show Title option to remove the check mark. Third, you'll select the View | Large Icons option, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

By selecting the Large Icons option, the Recycle Bin icon will match the rest of the icons on the taskbar.
Now, lock the taskbar as described above. When you do, the Recycle Bin will appear as a standalone icon on the taskbar, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

The Recycle Bin icon on the taskbar will now work exactly like the Recycle Bin icon did when it was on the desktop.

You can now drag and drop files on the Recycle Bin icon to delete files, double-click the icon to open the Recycle Bin folder to restore files, and right-click on the icon and select the Empty Recycle Bin command.

What's your take?

So now you can easily drag and drop files to the Recycle Bin icon and relive those early experiences. My wife says that she occasionally hears me whisper "Score!" when I delete a file. As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

29 comments
replytoaghar
replytoaghar

Every article written by Mr. Shultz is a dissection to Windows. I'm mostly a hardware kinda guy but, reading his articles & implementing his tips has made me a Guru in many areas. All you have to do is read his articles well, give them a little practice where you are a bit weak & you'll rarely need anything else.

essex133
essex133

To retain access your Recycle Bin when there are other windows open, you could simply right-click on the Recycle Bin and select Create Shortcut. Then just drag or cut and paste the shortcut into your Quick Lauch Bar! Of course, you don't get the Recycle Bin icon on your taskbar that way and you can't drag files to the Recycle Bin shortcut in your Quick Launch bar for that insanely satisfying feeling! But you DO gain access to it faster that way than having to click the show desktop icon :-)

paultx2
paultx2

I use this mostly to open or run CCleaner from the Recycle Bin's context menu.

Odinbear2
Odinbear2

Very simple idea, VERY Clever knowing how to do it in the first place, Respect.. ;)

kaduger
kaduger

same technique in XP

RU7
RU7

1. the task bar real estate is even more scarce and dynamic than the desktop, 2. notwithstanding the entertainment value of dragging something to the waste basket, the delete key is significantly faster and, in my opinion, safer. Dropping is succeptible to finger twitch and system twitch (did I just coin a new term?).

roystreet
roystreet

I've tested this only in Vista, but you can easily put the recycle bin right into the quick launch area also. Since it is a folder as well. Just a thought. ~roystreet Whoops! - Looks like some already said that - Sorry.

mr_m_sween
mr_m_sween

I really like this option. Is there a way to apply this to the default profile so that any users that log in automatically get this setting?

MNARVIND
MNARVIND

Instead of going through all the steps...I just copied (Press "Ctrl" key and Press Left button on Mouse at the same time and drag and drop the recycle bin icon anywhere in the Desktop. This will automatically create a Shortcut. Now drag this abd drop into the taskbar. The Recycle bin icon is now in the taskbar.

ereyes
ereyes

This is awesome! [sigh] Clean desktop, feels good.

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

Just bring the quick launch bar back (google it) and put the recycle bin in it.

rasilon
rasilon

Very nice..... I *LIKE* it. Hank Arnold (MVP)

Slayer_
Slayer_

They all had that custom toolbar option, even Windows 95 had that ability. I'm going to try in XP. Edit- Works in XP and Windows 98, so probalby Windows 95 as well.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"My wife ... reminds me how my buddies and I get throwing beer cans half way across the room to the trash can in the corner on Poker Game nights." In my house, my wife is expected to clean up after the poker game. Seriously, the process itself looks similar to creating a new toolbar folder in Vista.

Froznic
Froznic

Or... you can just put it in your quick launch bar..

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

This technique will work for other applications - which application would you like to see on the Taskbar? If you put an application on the Taskbar, let us know which one and why?

teyoung68
teyoung68

Works in Vista. It should, Win 7 is just Vista repaired and working like it should have been.

NexS
NexS

Because I tend to play the part of the housewife (though i'm not married). So that's why I play poker at the pub and not in the house.

bulk
bulk

Since I'm always fiddling with settings and new gadgets, I added Control Panel and Device Manager shortcuts to the Recycle folder. Mark's method also works for Control Panel. To add Device Manager, click "Start" and enter "dev"(without quotes). Locate the Device Manager item about 4 menu items down, right-click and drag to the desktop. Proceed as per Mark's instructions. Thanks Mark!

cwise
cwise

Instead of doing the creating, etc. I just drag n Dropped my Recycle Icon from desktop to taskbar and everything went just fine. Using XP vs Win 7 / Vista.

dleippe
dleippe

It is much simpler to just drag the Recycle bin to the Quick Launch Bar, then go to Personalize and turn off the Desktop icon...

RU7
RU7

Show desktop, IE, My Documents, Excel, Word, Outlook, Visio, Notepad, Paint, and Calculator. Now, though it would not work efficiently for the Recycle Bin, I pin shortcuts to the top level of the Start button. This leaves more room to show open apps on the task bar.

Randy Hagan
Randy Hagan

Thank you. This is a great tip! It was easy to do and a useful solution. I appreciate your article.