How to Delete a File

by ContributorUpdated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Mac OS 9.0

  • Microsoft Windows

  • Data Recovery Software

Delete unneeded files from your hard drive or from other storage media to reduce clutter and free up space on your drives. These instructions should work for most operating systems.

Deleting a File

Drag the file to the Recycle Bin (Windows) or the Trash (Mac). The file remains in the Trash or Recycle Bin until you empty the bin.

Emptying the Trash or Recycle Bin

For Windows users, open the Recycle Bin, and choose Empty Recycle Bin from the File menu.

For Mac users, open the Special menu and choose Empty Trash.


Windows users can also select the file and then press the Delete key on the keyboard, or select the file, then right-click and select Delete from the menu that appears. Click OK. Files deleted from the desktop can be restored from the Recycle Bin or the Trash if you change your mind. You can choose to empty all files from the Recycle Bin or the Trash, or you can choose to delete only those you select. It is always a good idea to save a backup of your files if you are in any doubt about whether you will need them again.


If you delete a program file (that is, a file that your software or your operating system requires), then your system or the software may not work correctly or may not work at all. Be very careful when deleting files from the System Folder or Mac OS folder (Macintosh) or from the Windows folder (Windows). Once a file is deleted from the Trash or the Recycle Bin, it cannot be recovered without the use of special data recovery software. If you have accidentally deleted a file that you want, do not save any additional files. The lost file may be recoverable, provided you have not saved anything since you emptied the Trash/Recycle Bin. Call a professional data recovery specialist for assistance.

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