How to Restore the Recycle Bin in Windows

Before you can recover any files from the Windows Recycle Bin, you need to be able to access the Recylce Bin. But what if it is not visible on the desktop? Maybe you accidentally deleted it, or never noticed it was not there. To restore the Recylce Bin in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, follow these steps:

1) Open the Control Panel from the Start menu.

2) In the Control Panel Window, select Appearance and Personalization.

3) Next, click the Personalization link.

4) In the left hand pane, click the Change desktop icons link.

Change desktop icons in Control Panel

5) In the Desktop Icon Settings window, make sure the checkbox in front of Recycle Bin is checked, and click OK.

Enable Recycle Bin icon

Now you can close the Control Panel windows and make the desktop visible. The Recycle Bin icon should be visible on the desktop, so now you can use it to restore your files and folders.

In Windows XP the only way to remove the Recycle Bin from the desktop is to use a third party GUI tweak application, like TweakUI. So to restore the Recylce Bin icon it is generally also best to use that same application.

The registry key associated with the Recycle Bin in Windows is:


The (Default) entry in this registry key needs to be a string containing the value “Recycle Bin”, as visible in the screenshot below.

Registry setting for recycle bin

If that key does not exist, you can create it using the Registry Editor. When you start the Registry Editor, first make a backup by exporting the registry using the export all option. That way you can always restore the previous backup in case you make a mistake.


How to restore a file from the recycle bin in Vista

In the default Vista configuration, Vista makes use of the recycle bin to delete files. So before a file is physically removed from a disk, it is first moved to the recycle bin. That allows the user to restore the file if required.

To restore a file from the recycle bin in Vista, simply double-click the Recycle Bin icon on the Desktop, or right-click the recycle bin icon and in the popup menu select Open.

This will bring up an explorer window that shows the contents of the recycle bin.

To restore a file, right-click the file, and in the popup menu select Restore.
Restrore file from recycle bin

The file will be restored to the original location from where it was initially deleted.