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Saturday, September 20, 2008

How to recover or restore a missing Recycle Bin icon in Windows Vista


PROBLEM: meant to hit "Empty Recycle Bin" but clicked on "Delete" instead. Now my Recycle Bin has disappeared from my desktop. How do I get it back? I'm running Windows Vista.

SOLUTION: To me this seems like a step backwards for Vista. On Windows XP, there is no "Delete" item when you right click on your desktop Recycle Bin. On Vista there is.

Not only is that potentially confusing, but even when you do understand the difference, you know what's going to happen.

•Right click on your desktop Recycle Bin in Windows Vista and you'll get this popup:

Vista Recycle Bin context menu

I've highlighted the menu items of interest here: Empty Recycle Bin, which permanently deletes the contents of the Recycle Bin, and Delete, the standard context menu item that deletes the Recycle Bin icon itself.

And it works. Click on Delete and you get this message:

Remove Recycle Bin message

"...I frequently mutter to myself 'yeah, yeah, whatever' and press enter or click Yes without paying attention."

The problem of course is that we're so used to these popup confirmations we often fail to notice or read them. I know I frequently mutter to myself "yeah, yeah, whatever" and press enter or click Yes without paying attention.

Whoops. The Recycle Bin disappeared.

But as you can see, the message gives the clue we need.

So, we dutifully fire up Control Panel and click on the Personalization options:

Vista Control Panel - Personalization

With all the options on the right in the big white emphasized area, it's very easy to miss "Change desktop icons" near the top left:

Vista Control Panel - Personalization - Change desktop icons

Click on that and you'll get this handy little dialog:

Desktop Icon Settings dialog

Click the Recycle Bin checkbox as I've highlighted above, click OK, and your Recycle Bin should reappear on the desktop.


Also see this way (click link below) to REMOVE THE DELETE entry from the CONTEXT menu so it wont happen again!

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