How to Empty the Trash on Android

Key Takeaways

  • Android doesn’t have a universal recycle bin, so you have to individually empty the trash in apps like Google Photos and Files by Google to free up storage.
  • In Google Photos, go to Library > Trash > three dots > Empty Trash to permanently delete deleted photos and videos.
  • In Files by Google, go to the hamburger menu > Trash > select all files > Delete to permanently remove deleted files. Other methods to free up storage include clearing app cache and reducing storage usage in apps like WhatsApp and Dropbox.

Unlike a desktop computer’s trash system, Android doesn’t offer a universal recycle bin that stores your deleted files. Instead, most Android apps manage their own trash, which you have to individually empty to free up your phone’s storage. Here’s how to do that.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to empty the trash for Google Photos and Files by Google, which are two of the popular gallery and file manager apps for this operating system. If you use a different app, check the “Recently Deleted” folder, “Trash,” or similar places to find and remove your deleted files.

Clear the Trash in Google Photos

To clear your deleted photos and videos, first, launch the Google Photos app on your Android phone.

In Photos’ bottom bar, tap “Library.”

Screenshot of the bottom bar in Google Photos, arrow pointing to Library

On the “Library” screen, at the top, tap “Trash.”

Screenshot of Google Photos tools, arrow pointing at Trash

On the “Trash” page, in the top-right corner, tap the three dots.

Screenshot of Google Photos trash, screenshot pointing at the menu icon

From the three-dot menu, select “Empty Trash.”

Arrow pointing at Empty Trash

In the prompt, choose “Allow” to confirm your choice.

Make sure you’re okay with permanently losing all the items in your trash. You can’t recover them once they’re gone.

Arrow pointing at the Allow button

And Google Photos will permanently delete everything from the trash. You’re all set.

Empty the Trash in Files by Google

If you use Files by Google as your file manager and you want to clear the trash, first, launch the Files by Google app on your phone.

When the app launches, in the top-left corner, tap the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines).

Arrow pointing at the Google Files menu button

In the menu that opens, select “Trash.”

Arrow pointing at Google Files trash

On the “Trash” page, your deleted files are displayed. Here, select all your files by choosing “All Items.” Then, at the bottom, tap “Delete.”


In the prompt that opens, choose “Delete.”

You won’t be able to recover your files once they’re permanently deleted. Make sure you’re okay with that.

Arrow pointing at the delete button

And you’re done. Files by Google will delete your trashed files for good.

Other Ways to Free Up an Android Phone’s Storage

Emptying the trash is one of the many ways to clear your Android phone’s storage. You can use other methods to reclaim even more storage space on your phone. These include clearing the app cache, (like Discord’s cache files), reducing WhatsApp’s storage usage, and removing Dropbox’s cache.


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