How to delete temporary files from your computer | Windows 8.1/8.0/7/Vista/NT/2000/XP

deleting temporary files
Deleting the temporary files from your computer can help keep it running smoothly as well as improving its performance.

Temporary files are created on your PC for numerous reasons, including when you browse the Internet, install programs, and by the operating system itself. We include instructions for the Disk Cleanup utility in Windows XP/2000, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.0/8.1.

Temporary files in Windows 8.0 and 8.1

The latest versions of the Windows operating system from Microsoft include the Disk Cleanup utility, these straightforward instructions will guide you through the process to remove your temporary files and free-up space on your hard drive(s).
  • Using a mouse
    1. Hover the mouse at the bottom-right of your screen.
    2. Move the mouse up and click on Settings.
    3. Click on Control panel, then type Admin into the search box.
    4. Click on Administrative Tools and then click Disk Cleanup.
  • Using touchscreen
    1. Swipe to the left from the right-edge of the screen.
    2. Tap on Settings.
    3. Tap on Control panel, then type Admin into the search box.
    4. Tap on Administrative Tools and then tap Disk Cleanup.
If prompted, choose which drive to delete the temporary files from and click/tap OK.

You will now see the Disk Cleanup dialogue box (see example below).
There are various options which can be selected, your choices will depend on your particular system. Although in normal circumstances you should tick all of the boxes.

Also note the Clean up system files button, clicking on this will open up a further set of options including the ability to remove unused programs and also deleting old copies of system restore files and shadow copies.

When you have checked all of the boxes that you wish to include in the cleanup, click on the OK button.

You will be asked to confirm that you wish to continue with the removal of the files, presuming you do, click the Delete Files button.

The cleanup process will then start. Be advised, the process can take a very long time to finish.

Temporary files in Windows Vista and Windows 7

Windows Vista and Windows 7 have near identical steps for cleaning out your temporary files, the instructions below cover both operating systems.
  • Open Disk Cleanup Utility in Windows Vista.
    1. Click on the START button then click on All Programs.
    2. Click on Accessories and then on System Tools.
    3. Then click on Disk Cleanup.
  • Open Disk Cleanup Utility in Windows 7.
    1. Click on the START button then type Disk Cleanup into the search box.
    2. Click on the Disk Cleanup icon in the results (see screenshot below).

After clicking on the utility, Windows will examine your hard drive to ascertain how much space can be reclaimed by running the disk cleanup. If you have more than one drive you may be prompted to select which drive you would like to run the utility on, if so, select the drive and click the OK button to continue.

You will now see a dialogue box similar to that shown on the left. Be patient as this stage of the process may take several minutes or longer depending on the size of the drive to be cleaned and the amount of data on it.

Once the testing is complete you will see the Disk Cleanup options box (as shown below).
On the left you can see an example options box. There are numerous options available:
  • Downloaded Program Files
  • Temporary Internet Files
  • Office Setup Files
  • Recycle Bin
  • Temporary Files
  • Compress Old Files
The exact options you will have will depend on your system's setup and also the software that is installed.

To the right of each option it details how much space you can reclaim by selecting the option.

As you select/deselect each option you can see the total space you will save increment/decrement.

Tick the box next to each option you would like to remove, for a full clean up simply tick each of the boxes.

If you click on the Clean up system files button you will be able to free up more space by removing unused programs and also older shadow copies of your files. Note: If you do remove your shadow copies then you will only be able to restore your system to the most recent restore point.
Once you have made your selections click on the OK button to initiate the process. You will then be asked to confirm that you would like to remove the temporary files, to confirm, click on the Delete files button and the process will start.

Temporary files in Windows XP/2000/NT

To open the Disk Cleanup utility:
  1. click on the START
  3. then hover over ACCESSORIES, SYSTEM TOOLS and then click on DISK CLEANUP
Note: NON-XP users, or users with more than one drive, may be prompted to select the drive that you wish to cleanup. In most cases it will be the C: drive that you need to select.

You will then see the following dialogue box appear:
cleanup calculate
Once the utility has finished analyzing your hard drive the following screen will appear:
cleanup select
Tick the boxes of all the different types of temporary files that you would like to cleanup. In most cases you would tick all of the boxes, you can view the associated files by clicking the VIEW FILES button..

When you have finished with your selections, click the OK button.

You will then see a dialogue box similar to that shown below:
cleanup complete
Once the dialogue box has closed, your temporary files have been removed.

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