Complete Delete
Home                                                                  (Paul Watkins 10/29/10)                                                                  Tips

    Did you know that normally when you delete a file in Windows it's not really deleted? ... "Say what?" ...It's true. Windows doesn't really delete it . It just puts the file into the trash, out of sight. Theoretically someone could hack in to your computer and retrieve some file you thought you had deleted. Also, when you think you've been cleaning up your hard drive and saving space, you aren't really saving space.

    So what do you do? Here's the tip (or kind of two in one tips). Open up Windows Explorer ("My Computer" or "Computer" depending on your version of Windows). Highlight the file you want to delete with a single mouse click. Now press the "Delete" key and read the message that pops up. Press "Escape" or click on "No" so you don't delete the file. Now, hold down the "Shift" key and press "Delete". Read the message that pops up this time. Notice the difference? When you delete the file without the "Shift" key being down, you are really just sending the file to the "Recycle Bin" or "Trash". But when you hold the "Shift" key down while deleting, it skips the trash and actually deletes it. (To be totally honest this doesn't even remove the file from your hard drive completely. But that's too technical to get into here.)

    But maybe you don't want to completely delete the file. Maybe you want to leave it in the trash can ("Recycle Bin") for a while in case you have to retrieve it later. That's cool. You can do that. Then whenever you decide later, you can empty the trash. Just right-click on the "Recycle Bin" and choose "Empty Recycle Bin". All gone!

    UPDATE (01/18/11) Thanks to a former colleague of mine (thank you Arthur) I need to point out that there is a setting in Windows XP that can force the Recycle Bin to be skipped altogether. So then a file will always be deleted whether you use the shift key or not. I'll save the details of this for another tip someday.
Psalm 103:11,12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

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