The name Recycle Bin can be rather confusing for Windows newbies. Most users of the English language probably think of “recycling” as reprocessing or adapting something for a new use. Unfortunately, this doesn’t describe the Windows Recycle Bin at all.

The Windows Recycle Bin is a folder that stores deleted files. Users can retrieve files from the Recycle Bin that they delete in error or they can empty the Recycle Bin to delete the file. (However, file recovery utilities can often recover files that have been emptied from the Recycle Bin. The only way to ensure a file is actually removed from a disk is to use a file deletion utility such as BCWipe, Disk CleanUp, Sure Delete, McAfee Shredder, ShredIt, and the like). Perhaps a better name for the Recycle Bin is Deleted Files Folder or Trash (as Mac users are familiar with). This would eliminate any end-user confusion about what this Windows element actually is.

You can alter the names of many Windows desktop icons, including My Computer, My Network Neighborhood, and My Documents, from the desktop or through the registry. However, you can only rename the Recycle Bin by modifying the registry. This also means you can change the name through policies or across the network.


The following article suggests editing your system registry. Using the Windows Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems requiring the reinstallation of your operating system and possible loss of data. TechRepublic does not and will not support problems that arise from editing your registry. Use the Registry Editor and the following directions at your own risk.

I dub thee “Deleted Files Folder”
To change the Recycle Bin’s name, open the Registry Editor and go to:

Or search the registry until you find the branch that contains text about the Recycle Bin. Export the branch to a file (as a backup) by selecting File | Export Registry File. Then, change the text at the end of the LocalizedString value from Recycle Bin to the text of your choice (see Figure A).

Figure A

Close the Registry Editor, reboot the system, and your Recycle Bin will have a new name.

Combating confusion

How do you clearly explain complicated concepts to Windows newbies? Do you have a favorite book or Web site that you point your confused user toward? Do you explain everything yourself or develop in-house documentation? Post a comment to this column and let us know how you combat end-user confusion.