Tech Tip of the Week: Place a Fully Functional Recycle Bin on your Windows 7 Taskbar

By on September 15, 2009, 12:07 AM
I'm not exactly sure when it became cool to abandon the use of your operating system's desktop, but a growing number of people these days prefer the "clean" look. Recent releases of Microsoft Windows seem to encourage this. By default, Windows Vista and 7 strip the desktop of all icons but the Recycle Bin.

Try as you may, ignoring this lone icon is impossible. Sure, you can hide it in just a few seconds, but at the cost of losing quick access to deleted files. You could also drag the Recycle Bin icon to the taskbar, but then it will appear pinned under Windows Explorer -- requiring an extra click to open and offering half the functionality.


In this tip, we will show you one method of bringing a fully functional Recycle Bin to your Windows 7 Taskbar, so you can clear off your desktop once and for all with little to no compromise.

Continue reading our Tech Tip of the Week.




User Comments: 38

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Phantasm66 Phantasm66 said:

Funny you should say this, but I recently took a penchant for having a desktop with no icons; only thing is you have to create shortcuts to the things on the quick launch toolbar with Vista and XP. In XP, I couldn't seem to get rid of the recycle bin at all.

This new "clean" look just feels better, for some reason.

When I get Windows 7 I will apply the above tip.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

or you can just use fences http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Sure could. Fences was our Download of the Week a bit back. Not quite the same thing, though .

[link]

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Sure could. Fences was our Download of the Week a bit back. Not quite the same thing, though .

cant you recognize when im being a smart a**! :p

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Haha, nope I failed to see that (obviously). Sarcasm just doesn't carry well through text sometimes.

JDoors JDoors said:

Oooo! I've kept a clean desktop since Windows '98SE. Well, back then it was out of necessity (to maximize available resources), but I've kept that penchant ever since (currently have just two icons on the desktop). This tip will ROCK when W7 arrives (even if it is a little complicated). Thanks.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

You're very welcome JDoors. Is there anything in specific that we could have done differently to make it less complicated? Putting the tip into action isn't as convoluted as it may seem. Essentially, you just bring out the Quick Launch bar and drag your Recycle Bin onto it. The rest of the tip is us tweaking the Quick Launch bar's looks.

MaXtor MaXtor said:

Such a simple idea, I'm surprised I didn't think of it. Thanks, now my desktop is free of all icons.

johnlgalt said:

Nice post. Using your method, I have a nice Recycle Bin on my taskbar.

Instead of deleting the icons that already existed in Quick Launch, though, I simply moved them to the desktop - that way, if I need to restore them I have access to them. Since W7 has a built in function to hide all icons on the desktop in the first place, it is a lot easier to just hide them as opposed to trying to watch for them and moving / deleting them when software decide to create desktop icons for you without your actual consent.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

@johnlgalt: Not a bad idea. If you wanted to take it a step further, you could right click on the Quick Launch bar and select "Open Folder." This is the destination where your Quick Launch shortcuts reside.

You could then create a new folder there, toss all of your unused shortcuts inside it and mark the folder as hidden (right click on it, "Properties," and tick "Hidden" .

In doing so, you may have to close and reopen the Quick Launch on your Taskbar (or maybe reboot) to hide the newly created folder.

tengeta tengeta said:

Pretty cool, too bad I don't use the recycle bin anymore.

Guest said:

Only one small problem. Whenever you set the Quick Launch to use large icons it changes the size of the taskbar. Aesthetically it looks a little weird and from a usability standpoint it makes clicking on icons in the taskbar more difficult since the hotspot now no longer extends to the bottom of the screen.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Thanks - I actually applied this tip just a few minutes ago thanks to this post.

Guest said:

"I'm not exactly sure when it became cool to abandon the use of your operating system's desktop, but a growing number of people these days prefer the "clean" look. Recent releases of Microsoft Windows seem to encourage this. By default, Windows Vista and 7 strip the desktop of all icons but the Recycle Bin."

The author of this article, clearly, does not know much about Windows or Windows users. I don't about Windows 95, but since Window 98, there has only been a Recycle Bin icon on the desktop immediately after installation of the Operating System. If you buy, or had bought, anything from Win98 and later, there would be several icons on the desktop.

I've only seen one person out of many (dozens?) who does not use the desktop. Everyone else has the whole desktop full of things.

Also, Windows 7 does NOT "strip the desktop" of any icons. This is the way it has always been. It is up to the user to add their favorite or most used icons to their own desktop. If Microsoft filled it up with icons, it would almost be like selling me a pad of note paper with someone else's notes already written on it.

-Tom

Guest said:

cool tip - I like that.

It would be awesome to be able to drag drop items into the bin. I don't see any benefits of having the recycle bin in quick launch task bar, it is just that an already default recycle bin icon on desktop is a lot better than having it on taskbar, no? I am able to drag drop my items into recycle bin on desktop, right click on bin icon to empty without opening the explore window. and it is already a simple task.

I know it depends on the context and user style/preference. just my observation for my style of using the operating system.

thank you

Ram

http://ramsblog.wordpress.com

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I never drag anything to the recycle bin myself - I merely wanted a shortcut that I could use to open it should I want to pull something out of the bin. I much prefer to not have the shortcut on the desktop and have used it strictly on the quicklaunch for a few years now. I also typically have little to nothing on my actual desktop and back in the Win 98 days I used to actually disable my desktop - so this tip is perfect for my style of desktop use.

Also to Tom the Guest - why do you feel it's necessary to attack a person directly by claiming to know what another might or might not know? It makes no sense and that type of behavior shows a lack of maturity. Sure, we all have our off days, but silly is always better than mean.

johnlgalt said:

Not a bad idea either. Might have to consider that one....

I suppose that you could just as easily create a new folder in QuickLaunch and put the Recycle Bin in there as well, and link to hat folder so the original items are still where they normally appear, eh?

johnlgalt said:

@Matthew - yup - making a new folder under Quick Launch works just as well - in fact, making a new folder *anywhere* (that is not a protected item, like Program Files) works just as well, as seen in this tutorial:

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/6687-recycle-bin-pin-ta
kbar.html

Benefit - no need to delete the default items in Quick Launch.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

who is John galt?....sorry...couldn't resist

Nunja Business said:

DId this last week. Very cool and looks good.

Guest said:

"Non-Apple software must use other metaphors for file deletion, such as Recycle Bin, Smart Eraser, or Shredder"

Not entirely correct, AmigaOS has a trashcan.

Guest said:

I love this. I added the recycle bin to my taskbar and only have one question; when I right-click on the recycle bin in my taskbar, I get many more item (i.e. cut, copy, delete, etc.) how did you get rid of those "extra" items? Is there a way I can get the right-click menu to look like the one in the screenshot?

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

I could be wrong on this because it's been a few weeks since I prepared those images, but I think I edited most of the right-click menus to make the pictures smaller (they were too tall, looked terrible in the article). Sorry if that has mislead you.

Guest said:

thanks :D:D:D

Guest said:

Although this fix IS fully functional, making the recycle bin icon large to match the other icons add makes your taskbar taller and it looks bad. It also won't let you position the recycle bin icon anywhere in between your other icons.

Beemerke said:

I have a problem with this.

I added a new toolbar. All my icons are in this toolbar now but when I start my computer the toolbar/icons are gone.

I have to make a new toolbar with the same folder url to get it back, all the icons I've put in it before are still there.

I'm probably missing some setting to keep the toolbar from loading at windows startup but I can't think what I'm missing.

Guest said:

Awesome writeup! I love the look of a clean desktop and now I dont have any icons on the desktop!

:)

Guest said:

Hey Matthew! Thanks for the tutorial,it helped me a lot with cleaning my desktop :P

But I have a question. Would you please tell me the name or a download link for the wallpaper you used in the tutorial? I really like it,and yeah.Me wants wallpaper xD

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

I've uploaded it for you here, Guest: [link]

Guest said:

Thanks for the wall,also,one more question.

The them you use,is it a default color in Win 7 or is it custom?

I know I'm being a bit requestive ( to say so :P) but,I'm looking for ideas for my desktop,so yeah.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Screenshotted my settings. Nothing special, I just set it as dark as it could go.

Guest said:

May I see it?

Guest said:

Sorry...I just saw the screenshot,it wasn't displayed on the comment box. :(

Anyway,thanks a bunch. :)

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Sorry about that, I should have mentioned that it wouldn't be viewable on the front page comments. Anyhow, you're welcome.

Guest said:

The odd thing is that just yesterday I was at a forum where people were posting their desktops and I told people how to do it, linking to your instructions. When I first did this I am pretty sure it was not your instructions that I followed, but thanks anyway for spreading the word. It SHOULD be as easy as just dragging and dropping it onto the task bar, but that would be too convenient.

Also odd is somehow I lost my recycle bin in the task bar today and I did use your instructions to put it back. I am guessing I deleted it when I was not paying attention and was trying to empty it.

Guest said:

I did everything as it says but the problem I get is that when I right-click on the Recycle Bin icon in the taskbar I don't get the same context menu you that you get.

I get it as if it was a any other shortcut, it does include the Empty Recycle Bin and open but it's not as minimal as yours with just a few items in it.

A problem I get from this is my bad habit of selecting Delete instead and no the icon is gone and I have to put the Recycle Bin back on the desktop and re-create the short cut again. Which is why I ended up going into the Properties->Security tab and removing my ability to do anything but Write, so now when I try to delete it I get an error that stops me.

I would much rather prefer to have the same limited selection that yours has. Is there a step I'm missing or something you left out that could help with this?

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Guest said:

I did everything as it says but the problem I get is that when I right-click on the Recycle Bin icon in the taskbar I don't get the same context menu you that you get.

I get it as if it was a any other shortcut, it does include the Empty Recycle Bin and open but it's not as minimal as yours with just a few items in it.

A problem I get from this is my bad habit of selecting Delete instead and no the icon is gone and I have to put the Recycle Bin back on the desktop and re-create the short cut again. Which is why I ended up going into the Properties->Security tab and removing my ability to do anything but Write, so now when I try to delete it I get an error that stops me.

I would much rather prefer to have the same limited selection that yours has. Is there a step I'm missing or something you left out that could help with this?

I addressed this in a previous comment: "I could be wrong on this because it's been a few weeks since I prepared those images, but I think I edited most of the right-click menus to make the pictures smaller (they were too tall, looked terrible in the article). Sorry if that has mislead you."

Again, sorry if it has confused anyone.

Guest said:

When I try this shortcut, I get an error message saying that the folder doesn't exist. I searched my computer, and in the help menu, it told me that my version of windows doesn't have QuickLaunch.

By the way, I have Windows 7 Home Premium.

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