Delete & restore files in Google Drive

Delete files: To delete your Google Drive files, move them to the trash. Files in trash are automatically deleted after 30 days.

Restore files: You can restore files from your trash before the 30-day time window. Learn how to restore files.

Permanently delete files: You can also permanently delete them to empty your trash.

Tip: If you delete, restore, or permanently delete multiple files or folders at once, it might take time for you to notice the changes.

Move a file to the trash

To remove a file from your Drive, put it in your trash. The file will stay in your trash for 30 days before being automatically deleted. When you put a file in the trash:

  • If you own the file, people you’ve shared it with can make a copy. Learn how to permanently delete a file.
  • If you don’t own the file, removing the file from your Drive only removes it for you.


On the web
  1. On your computer, go to
  2. Click a file.
  3. Click Remove Remove.

Drive for desktop

If you mirror or stream files between Google Drive and your computer, any files you put in the trash are put in the trash everywhere.
Important: If you back up to Google Photos, only photos and videos will be uploaded. Changes (including deleting images) won't sync between your computer and Google Photos.

Empty your trash

You can permanently delete an individual file or empty your trash.

  • After you delete a file permanently, anyone you’ve shared the file will lose access to it.
  • If you want others to be able to access the file, you can transfer ownership to someone else.

Steps to permanently delete a file from Drive.

Empty your trash

  1. On your computer, go to
  2. On the left, click Trash.
  3. Make sure there are no files you want to keep.
  4. At the top right, click Empty trash

Tip: If you don't find "Empty trash", on the top next to Trash, click Down arrow Down and then Empty trash

Delete an individual file forever

  1. On your computer, go to
  2. On the left, click Trash.
  3. Click a file.
  4. At the top, click Delete forever Remove.

Recover a file from the trash

If there’s a file in your trash you want to keep, put it back in "My Drive." If you’re not the owner of the file and want to use it:

  • Make a copy of the file.
  • Contact the owner to have them restore it.
On the web
  1. On your computer, go to
  2. On the left, click Trash.
  3. Click the file you want to restore.
  4. At the top, click Restore Restore from trash.
    • Tip: You can sort your trashed files by trashed date to find the oldest or newest files trashed. 
  5. You can find restored files in their original location. If the original location no longer exists, look in "My Drive."

Steps to restore a file or folder from Trash in Google Drive.

Drive for desktop

  • If you can still find a file you deleted in your trash, try to restore it from Drive.
    • This is to ensure any metadata like previous revisions is preserved.
  • If the file is no longer available in your trash, but is available in your computer's Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (MacOS), you can restore it.  

If you don’t own the file, contact the owner to have them restore it.

Tip: If you have important information in a file, you can make a copy of it. Open the file and click File and then Make a copy.

If you can't recover your deleted file

If you delete a file and need to get it back, contact a Drive specialist. To find your file, call or chat with us.

Restore files you deleted

If you deleted something recently using Google Drive or the Google Drive desktop app, you might be able to restore the file yourself.

Restore from your Trash

  1. On a computer, go to
    • Tip: You can sort your trashed files by trashed date to find the oldest or newest files trashed.
  2. Right-click the file you want to recover.
  3. Click Restore.
  4. You can find restored files in their original location.
    • If the original location is gone, check "My Drive."
Find a file you don't think you deleted

Steps to find or recover a file in Google Drive

Try these steps

Check the activity panel

  1. On a computer, go to
  2. At the top right, click Info Info.
  3. Click "Activity" to check the activity panel.
  4. Scroll down and look for your file.

Use an advanced search

  1. On a computer, go to
  2. In the search bar, click the icon to the far right.
  3. Use the advanced search options to find your file. For example, to find spreadsheets, next to 'Type,' click the down arrow, then click 'Spreadsheets.'

Using the search field with search operators in Google Drive.

Learn why files go missing

If you created the file

If you can’t find a file that you created in Drive, it might have lost the folder it was in. The file still exists, but is harder to find.

How files lose their folder

  • You create a file in someone else's folder and they delete that folder. The file isn't deleted. It's automatically moved to your My Drive.
    Important: Only you can delete the files you own.
  • You share a folder with someone and they remove your file from the folder. The file isn't deleted, it's automatically moved to your My Drive.

Find unorganized files

  1. On a computer, go to
  2. In the search bar, enter: is:unorganized owner:me
  3. When you find the file, move it to a folder in My Drive so it’s easier to find next time.

Search now

If someone else created the file

When someone creates a file, they can delete, rename, and restore it. Contact the person who created the file and ask them to restore it or share it with you again.

If it was in a folder someone else created

If someone deleted that folder, you won't find that folder in your Drive anymore.

Find files you created in deleted folders

Find all files that are in deleted folders

To make that file easier to find in the future, move it into a folder in "My Drive."

More on how to find files

Try advanced search

To refine your search in Drive, use a search phrase on your computer with one of these options:

Search for Example
Exact phrase

"Use quotes around an exact phrase"

Exclude a word

Water but not lakes:

water -lakes

File owner

Files Dad owns:

Files shared by others

Files Mom shared with you:

You shared files

Files you shared with Mom:

Starred items


Deleted items


File type

Spreadsheet file type:


Time frame

Before or after January 18, 2015.




title:"The title goes here"


Files opened in Google Drive:


Recovered file types

For personal accounts, you can recover recently deleted files for a limited time after they’re deleted if you use:

  • Google Drive with a consumer account.
  • Not through work, school, or other group

One of these is true:

  • You created the file.
  • You uploaded the file to Google Drive.
  • You accepted ownership of the file from someone.

If your Google Account was deleted, you might not be able to recover your files.

Use Search Chips

To narrow down the list of files in Drive, you can use search chips. You can search and filter:

  • Type
  • People 
  • Modified

These chips appear below the search bar and search all files, folders, and subfolders within that view, like My Drive, Recent, or Trash.

  • To remove a search chip: On the right of the chip, click .
  • To remove all search chips: At the end of the chips, click .

Tip: Search chips are present by default, to hide them, click on the filter button .

Recover emails from Gmail

Learn how to recover emails from Gmail.

To contact us, sign in to your Google Account.


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