Computers Windows

How To Delete in Windows


The ability to delete files in the Windows operating system is very important to your overall use of a PC. Although you can't physically open a hard drive's casing and grab a file that is stored on the disk, know that there are many pieces of data that exist on this medium. Over time, the number of files builds up to the point where the operating system has no more room to store new files. Since adding a new hard drive to increase the amount of space is both costly and unfeasible, the next best option is to delete unwanted and unnecessary files.

Other reasons for deleting files is that you need to clear the hard drive of excess that can actually slow down the Windows operating system. In some of the more modern versions of the OS, such Windows Vista and Windows 7, user files get indexed so that they are easily found when using built-in search features. By deleting unnecessary files, you prevent the operating system from indexing and presenting unwanted data when you perform a search, helping you find data quicker.

There are many other reasons for deleting files, but you are probably more interested in "how" to get this done rather than "why." Hopefully you can use some of the aforementioned background information as you consider at least five different approaches to deleting files on a Windows PC.


Step 1

Use the right-click context menu to delete files in Windows. One of the most common features of the operating system that owners use to view files stored on the hard drive is the Windows Explorer window or the My Computer window. In this window you can view the various drive letters that are currently mounted in the operating system, such as the C, D and E drives. Also, you can view the various folders associated with the user account that you created for log in to Windows, such as the Documents, Music and Pictures folder.

As you click in and out of folders to view various files, right-click on those objects to reveal a context menu. Select the "Delete" option to remove those files from their current location, sending them to the Recycle Bin.

Step 2

Click on the "Delete" button located at the top of every Windows Explorer or My Computer window in the operating system. First, you have to click on a file or folder, once, to highlight and select that object. Then click on the delete option, which may be represented by the red letter "X" at the top of the window.

Step 3

Run the Disk Cleanup utility to delete files in Windows. This utility nearly scans the entire hard drive looking for unnecessary files, such as those stray files left behind when you uninstall third-party programs. In most versions of the operating system, you can click on All Programs from the Start Menu, and then click on the "Administrative Tools" folder. Alternatively, type "Disk Cleanup" in the search box at the bottom of the Start menu.

Step 4

Use the "Delete" function inside any application to remove files from Windows. For example, if you are using a productivity application or photo editing application, you can delete previous versions of those files right from the application, instead of having to open the Windows Explorer or My Computer windows.

Step 5

Empty the Recycle Bin to permanently delete files from your Windows PC. In all of the previous steps, you simply delete the files from their present location in folders that you commonly use, but those files are still taking up space on the hard drive. Right-click on the Recycle Bin and then select "Empty Recycle Bin" to permanently delete those files. Note that you may never be able to recover those files.


  • Research and download a third-party "eraser" application if you need to delete data for security purposes.

Sources and Citations

  1. "Delete a File or Folder." Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.
  2. "Delete a Hard Disk Partition." Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.
  3. "Delete AutoComplete Saved Information." Delete Saved AutoComplete History. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.
  4. "Delete Files Using Disk Cleanup." Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.
  5. "Delete Webpage History." Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.
  6. "Delete Your Internet Cookies." Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.
  7. "Permanently Delete Files from the Recycle Bin." Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>.
By Adri Buckminster, published at 03/01/2012
   Rating: 4/5 (11 votes)
How To Delete in Windows. 4 of 5 based on 11 votes.