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 iconTo 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.
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 ToolbarNow, 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.
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.
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 taskbarNow 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.
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 taskbarNow, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.