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.

Put a file in trash

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

If you're the owner of the file, others can access it until you permanently delete the file. If you're not the owner, others can access the file even if you empty your trash.

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Google Drive app.
  2. Next to the file you want to delete, tap More More.
  3. At the bottom, tap Remove.

Empty your trash

You can permanently delete an individual file or empty your trash. After you delete a file, anyone you've shared the file with loses access to it. If you want others to still access the file, you can give ownership to someone else.

  1. In the upper left, tap Menu Menu.
  2. Tap Trash.
  3. Next to the file you'd like to delete, tap More More.
  4. Tap Delete forever.

Empty your trash

  1. In the upper left, tap Menu Menu.
  2. Tap Trash.
  3. Make sure that there are no files that you'll want later.
  4. In the top right, tap More More.
  5. Tap Empty trash.

Recover a file from trash

If you put a file in your trash but decide that you still want it, you can put it back in your Drive.

  1. In the upper left, tap Menu Menu.
  2. Tap Trash.
  3. Next to the file you'd like to save, tap More More.
  4. Tap Restore.

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

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.

You deleted something and want it back

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. Open your Google Drive App.
  2.  Next to the file you want to recover, tap Menu More
  3. Tap Restore.

You can't find something & you don't think you deleted it

Try these steps

Check the activity panel

  1. Open your Google Drive App.
  2. At the bottom right, tap Files.
  3. At the upper left, tap My Drive.
  4. Scroll down and look for your file.

Try an advanced search

  1. Open your Google Drive App.
  2. Use the advanced search options to find your file, like "type:spreadsheets."

If the steps above didn't help, consider these special cases:

If you created the file

If you created a file in Drive and can't find it, it may be orphaned. An orphaned file might have lost all of its parent folders. 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 your orphaned files

  1. In the Drive search field, enter: is:unorganized owner:me
  2. 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 that are in deleted folders

Find all files that are in deleted folders

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

More on how to find files

Did you try advanced search?

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

Search for Example
Exact phrase

"Use quotes around an exact phrase"

One or another

tacos OR nachos

Exclude a word

Water but not lakes:

water -lakes

File owner

Files Dad owns:

They shared files

Files Mom shared with you:

You shared files

Files you shared with Mom:

Starred items


Deleted items



Spreadsheet file type:


Time frame

Before or after January 18, 2015. 




title:"The title goes here"


Files opened in Google Drive:


Which files can be recovered?

You can recover recently deleted files for a limited time if you use:

  • Google Drive with a consumer account
    • Not through work, school, and 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 you use an account through your work, school, or other group, contact your administrator for help.

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

If you think that someone accessed your Google Drive without your permission, we recommend taking steps to make your account more secure.

Use Search Chips

You can use search chips before you enter a term in the “search bar” to narrow down the list of files in Drive. To use search chips:

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Google Drive app.
  2. At the top, tap Search Drive.
  3. Tap to select a search chip, you can select:
    • Type
    • Folders
    • Modified: Today, Yesterday, Last 7 Days.
  4. After you tap on the chip, you can further narrow your results: type in the search bar.
  5. Tap Search.

These chips appear below the search bar. They will search all files, folders, and subfolders. To remove a search chip, on the right of the chip, tap .

As you enter your search, you'll find suggestions to select relevant chips that can reduce the need to enter long text.

Recover emails from Gmail

Learn how to recover emails from Gmail.

Contact us

To contact us, sign in to your Google Account.


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