Delete and restore files in Google Drive

Important: Starting October 13, 2020, Google Drive files are automatically deleted forever after they've been in your trash for 30 consecutive days. Learn more.  
Want to get more out of Google Drive for work or school? Sign up for a free G Suite trial.

To delete your Google Drive files, move them to the trash. You can also restore your files or empty the trash to permanently delete them. 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 there until you empty your trash. 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 drive.google.com.
  2. Click a file.
  3. Click Remove Remove.
Backup and Sync for Mac & Windows

When you sync files:

  • Between Google Drive and your computer, any files you delete in one place will be deleted everywhere.
  • From folders on your computer, you can choose how files are deleted.

To change how files are deleted with Backup and Sync, learn how to change your settings.

Move files to the trash

  1. On your computer, find the file you want to delete.
  2. Drag the file to the trash on your computer.
  3. The file will be deleted everywhere. It may take some time for the file to be deleted everywhere.

Drive File Stream

To use Drive File Stream, you need to sign in to Google Account through work or school, and you’re not signed into a Google Account. Click here to sign in to your Google Account.

Empty your trash

You can permanently delete an individual file or empty your entire 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 view the file, you can transfer ownership to someone else.

on

On the web

Empty your entire trash

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  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 see "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 drive.google.com.
  2. On the left, click Trash.
  3. Click a file.
  4. At the top, click Delete forever Remove.
Backup and Sync for Mac & Windows

When you use Backup and Sync to sync files between Google Drive and your computer, you can choose if files you delete in one place will be deleted everywhere.

Empty your trash

To permanently delete your files, empty the trash on your computer.

Drive File Stream

To use Drive File Stream, you need to sign in to Google Account through work or school, and you’re not signed into a Google Account. Click here to sign in to your Google Account.

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 drive.google.com.
  2. On the left, click Trash.
  3. Click the file you want to restore.
  4. At the top, click Restore Restore from trash.
Backup and Sync for Mac & Windows
  1. On your computer, open your trash.
  2. Drag a file from your trash to your desktop or other folder.

To sync the file with Drive, place it in a folder that you’ve chosen to sync with Drive. Learn more about which folders on your computer sync with Google Drive.

Drive File Stream

To use Drive File Stream, you need to sign in to Google Account through work or school, and you’re not signed into a Google Account. Click here to sign in to your Google Account.

If you're not the owner of 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

  1. On a computer, go to drive.google.com/drive/trash.
  2. Right-click the file you want to recover.
  3. Click Restore.

Tip: If someone else created the 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.

Find a file you didn't delete

Check the activity panel

  1. On a computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. At the left, click My Drive.
  3. At the top right, click Info Info.
  4. Scroll down and look for your file.

Use an advanced search

  1. On a computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. At the top, in the search bar click the Down arrow Down arrow.
  3. Use the advanced search options to find your file. For example, to see spreadsheets, next to 'Type,' click the down arrow, then click ‘Spreadsheets.’

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:

owner:dad@gmail.com

Files shared by others

Files Mom shared with you:

from:mom@gmail.com

You shared files

Files you shared with Mom:

to:mom@gmail.com

Starred items

is:starred

Deleted items

is:trashed

File type

Spreadsheet file type:

type:spreadsheet

Time frame

Before or after January 18, 2015. 

before:2015-01-18

after:2015-01-18

Title

title:"The title goes here"

App

Files opened in Google Drive:

app:"Drive"

Find unorganized files

  1. On a computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. At the top, 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

Tip: If your file was in a folder someone else created, and they deleted the folder, you won’t see the folder in your Drive anymore. To make the file easier to find in the future, move it into a folder in My Drive.

Find files you created in deleted folders

Find all files that are in deleted folders

Contact us

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

We can help you recover recently deleted files for a limited time after they’re deleted if you use Google Drive with a personal account and one of these is true:

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

To contact us, sign in to your Google Account.

Learn why files go missing

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.

Files can lose their folder if: 

  • You create a file in someone else's folder, and they delete that folder. Since only you can delete the files you own, your file isn't deleted, but it isn't in a folder.
  • You share a folder with someone, and they remove your file from the folder. The file isn't deleted, but it's no longer in a folder.

Related resources

 

 

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