Has anyone found a way to view the Recycle Bin from the Desktop folder view without a shortcut? I've always found it strange that I can see the Recycle Bin icon from the physical Windows desktop but not from the folder of C:\Users\%username%\Desktop unless there's a shortcut created for it.

With a shortcut, I have to deal with two recycle bin icons on the desktop...mild quip but figured I'd ask to see if anyone else has gone down this rabbit hole. It's pretty hard to Google.


Actually I think the easiest way is to create a shortcut of the Recycle Bin and then hide the original Recycle Bin following these settings:

  1. Select the Start button, then select Settings.
  2. Select Personalization > Themes > Desktop icon settings.
  3. DeSelect the Recycle Bin check box > Apply.

Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/15057/windows-show-hide-recycle-bin

You can then just rename the shortcut to be Recycle Bin..


Your desktop is a virtual folder, which collects items from several sources. This only includes the C:\Users\%username%\Desktop directory, but will also include the "Public" desktop and various "shell namespace" virtual items (such as Computer or Recycle Bin) which don't have a corresponding physical file.

And the Recycle Bin isn't physically located on your desktop anyway. It's also just a virtual location which collects files located at C:\$Recycle.Bin, D:\$Recycle.Bin, and so on for every volume on a fixed disk. So it's normal that the only way to access it is through a shortcut whose target is the namespace CLSID.

The CLSID for the virtual Recycle Bin is {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}. You can tell Windows Explorer to open it in several ways:

  • You can use these command-line options:

    explorer.exe /e,/root,::{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}
  • You can launch the address ::{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E} through the Run dialog WinR, or through the start command in Cmd, or through any other interface to ShellExecuteEx().

  • You can create an empty directory with a magic name which, when opened, will show the virtual location corresponding to the CLSID instead of the physical contents. The directory doesn't need any special attributes except for name:

    Any name you want.{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}

As for the physical recycle bins – they have a non-obvious internal structure, with the original file names and paths stashed in an index. The directories have had different names across Windows releases; and on NTFS filesystems they have subdirectories for each user's SID. So although you can access them through any file manager, you won't get useful results.

  • Thanks for the detailed reply! – Ian Smith Jun 9 '20 at 6:01

Ian Smith's answer might be the easiest "solution" to your issue/observation, I thought I'd explain why you wee what you see. The Desktop you see when all windows are minimized is a virtual folder, the root of the Shell Namespace. It is populated with both filesytem items (files/directories) and and namespace entries such as This PC, Network, OneDrve, etc. These items come from four locations:

( Shell: commands can be esecuted from the Run dialog or the Explorer Address bar. )

  • User's Desktop folder ( shell:ThisPCDesktopFolder ) `
  • Common Desktop folder ( shell:Common Desktop )`
  • HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace
  • HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace

It can also be viewed in an Explorer window, where those namespace entries that have the option of being visible on the Desktop are visible regardless of the Desktop icon visibility settings. ( LOL - got that? )

enter image description here

The view can be accessed in a number of ways:

  • shell:Desktop
  • Using the Up one level button or Address bar droplist ( another way to access the Recycle Bin as well ): enter image description here
  • Setting Navigation Pane options to Show all folders makes the rooted Desktop one of only two items in the pane when tey're fully collpased: enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.