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Using the Recycle Bin in Windows Me

The Recycle Bin, that little oval wastebasket on your desktop, is supposed to work like a real Recycle Bin. It's something you can fish the Sunday paper out of if somebody pitched the comics section before you had a chance to read it.

If you want to get rid of something in Windows Me — a file or folder, for example — simply drag it to the Recycle Bin. Point at the file or folder's icon with the mouse and, while holding down the left mouse button, point at the Recycle Bin. Let go of the mouse button, and your detritus disappears. Windows Me stuffs it into the Recycle Bin.

But if you want to bypass that cute metaphor, there's another way to delete stuff: Click your unwanted file or folder's icon with the right mouse button and choose Delete from the menu that pops up. Windows Me asks cautiously if you're sure that you want to delete the icon. If you click the Yes button, Windows Me dumps the icon into the Recycle Bin, just as if you'd dragged it there. Whoosh!

So if you like to drag and drop, feel free to drag your garbage to the Recycle Bin and let go. If you prefer the menus, click with your right mouse button and choose Delete. Or, if you like alternative lifestyles, click the unwanted icon with your left button and push your keyboard's Delete key. All three methods toss the file into the Recycle Bin, where it can be salvaged later or, eventually, purged for good.

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  • Want to retrieve something you've deleted? Double-click the Recycle Bin icon, and a window appears, listing deleted items. See the name of your accidentally deleted icon? Click it with your right mouse button and choose Restore to send it back to the folder where it was deleted. Or drag it to the desktop or any other folder: Point at the icon's name and, while holding down the left mouse button, point at its desired location. Let go of the mouse button, and the Recycle Bin coughs up the deleted item, good as new.

  • Sometimes, the Recycle Bin can get pretty full. If you're searching fruitlessly for a file you've recently deleted, tell the Recycle Bin to sort the filenames in the order in which they were deleted. Click View, point at Arrange Icons, and choose by Delete Date from the menu that pops out. Recycle Bin now lists the most recently deleted files at the bottom.

  • The Recycle Bin icon changes from an empty wastepaper basket to a full one as soon as it's holding a deleted file. You may have to squint a little to notice the pieces of paper sticking out of the trashcan's top.

  • A Recycle Bin can eat up 10 percent (or more) of your hard disk space. To free up some space, cut down on the amount of room it reserves for saving your deleted files. Click the Recycle Bin with your right mouse button and choose Properties from its menu. Normally, Recycle Bin waits until your deleted files consume 10 percent of your hard drive before it begins purging your oldest deleted files. If you want the Recycle Bin to hang on to more deleted files, increase the percentage. If you're a sure-fingered clicker who seldom makes mistakes, decrease the percentage.

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