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How To Find Android Recycle Bin and Recover Deleted Files

Whenever you delete something on a computer, it always ends up in the Recycle Bin folder on the desktop screen. This folder allows you to retrieve deleted files easily. Nowadays, though, we heavily rely on our smartphones, and it's increasingly becoming necessary to have this same feature on mobile devices.

However, unlike on computers, not many people know how or where to find the Recycle Bin on Android devices. Fortunately, this article will explain everything regarding the Android Recycle Bin. We will show you where deleted files are stored on Android and how to recover them.

Where is the Recycle Bin on My Phone?

Technically, Android phones operate a little differently from computers. They don't have a dedicated folder for saving deleted files, like the Recycle Bin on computers. However, Gmail, Google Photos, Messages, and several other apps come with their special Recently Deleted folder that stores deleted items temporarily before they are permanently deleted.

You can use this trash folder to retrieve files you may have accidentally deleted in the corresponding app, like Google Photos or Gmail. Any deleted photo or email can be retrieved from the trash folder of these apps within 30 days.

Where Are Deleted Files Stored on Android?

The files you delete on an Android phone don't go anywhere. They remain in their original spot in the phone's internal memory. However, when new data is written in the same spot, the files will be removed and replaced. Therefore, deleted files on Android devices can still be retrieved even though you can't see them.

Some Android phone manufacturers, though, have the Recycle Bin option, which can help you locate deleted files in various apps like Gmail, messages, photos, etc. The location of this Recycle Bin is similar in almost all the Android phones that support it, regardless of the model and the system version.

How to Access Recycle Bin on an Android Phone?

As mentioned earlier, Android doesn't have a single Recycle Bin, but numerous apps have trash folders that serve the same purpose as recycle bins. Examples of these trash folders include:

Photos App Trash

Google Photos has a trash folder that stores all the deleted photos and videos from the app. Here is how to access the folder:

  1. Launch the Photos app on your Android device.
  2. Select the "Library" option at the bottom and then tap on "Trash." (Depending on your region, the icon may be named "Bin" instead of "Trash.").
  3. You'll see all your deleted photos in the trash folder. Tap on any photo to restore it. You can also empty the Photos app trash by tapping the three-dot menu.

android photos app trash

Note: The Photos app automatically deletes files in the trash folder after 30 days. It auto-deletes backed-up files after 60 days, so you don't have to empty the trash folder manually.

Gallery App Trash

Samsung devices don't have the Photos app. They have the Gallery app, which comes with a trash folder that you can access with these simple steps:

  1. Launch the Gallery app and open the menu (the three-line icon at the bottom).
  2. Tap on "Trash" to view all the deleted files from the Gallery app.
  3. Tap the "Edit" option and select the items you want to retrieve. Now, tap on "Restore" (at the bottom).

Please note that some Samsung models require you to enable the trash bin first before you can retrieve deleted media files.

  1. Open the three-line menu of the Gallery app and choose "Settings."
  2. Go to the "Trash" option and tap the toggle next to it.

File Manager Trash

Does your Android device have the File Manager app? If so, the downloaded files you deleted, including documents, can be found in the trash folder of the file manager app. Please note that most Android devices come with a pre-installed file manager app. The steps below only apply to this app, not the other versions available in the Play Store.

Step 1: Search for the File Manager app on your device - its exact name could be My Files, Files, or File Manager.

Step 2: Open the app and follow these steps, depending on your device.

  • Access the app's menu (three-line icon) and tap on "Trash."
  • Navigate down to the "Trash" option and tap it.
  • Select "Categories" and then tap on the "Recently deleted" option.

Step 3: Now, restore files from the trash folder or empty it. The steps may vary depending on the device:

  • To restore a file, choose it and tap the "Restore" option. To empty the trash, tap the "All items" button and select "Delete."
  • Touch and hold a file and then tap "Restore" to retrieve it from the trash. Tap the menu icon (three-line) and select "Empty" to clear the trash.
  • Tap on each file to remove it from the trash, or tap "Delete all" to erase everything in the folder.

empty android file manager trash

Messages App Trash

The messages app on Android phones is almost similar to that on iOS devices because it also has a "Recently Deleted" folder that holds all deleted messages. To find this folder, do this:

  1. Get to the "Message" app on the Android phone.
  2. On the main page of the app, tap the menu icon (the three-dots/hamburger icon).
  3. Choose the "Trash" or "Archived" option. All the deleted messages will appear in the Message app's trash folder.

samsung phone message recycle bin

Contact App Trash

Sometimes, when you check your phone's address book, you may not see certain contacts and think they are deleted, but probably they are just hidden. It's possible to find such contacts even if they are actually deleted.

  1. Open your phone's Contact app and tap the "menu" option (the three-dot button).
  2. Go to the "Settings" tab and select "Contacts to display". All the contacts available on your Android phone will be displayed.
  3. If a contact is missing, go to this location: "data/data/com.android.providers.contacts/databases/contacts.db." You'll see all the deleted contacts in this location.

display all contacts android

App Download History

Is there an app you accidentally deleted, but you're not sure what it's called? Go to Google Play and check the App download history. Here, you'll find the specific application and recover it.

  1. Open "Google Play" and tap the avatar on the top right side to go to your profile page.
  2. Select "My apps & games" from the page, then tap on "Library." You'll see all the apps that are deleted from your Android phone listed in the "Not on this device" section.
  3. You can reinstall the specific app you want from this recycle bin by tapping "Install" or remove all the apps from the bin by tapping "X."

samsung phone message recycle bin

How to Recover Deleted Files on Android without Recycle Bin?

Some deleted files on Android phones can't be directly recovered from the various trash folders they are stored in. Unlike apps, which are easy to restore, contacts, text messages, photos, audio files, and videos can be difficult to retrieve once deleted. However, with a data recovery tool, it's easy to get such files back. One powerful data recovery tool you can consider is FoneGeek Android Data Recovery.

This software provides the most practical and efficient solution because it can recover all kinds of deleted files from an Android device, even if they are not available in any trash folder. The recovery process is smooth and fast. Moreover, the tool supports almost all Android devices.

FoneGeek Android Data Recovery Main Features

  • Deep scan Android internal memory, SIM card, and SD card to find all deleted files.
  • Preview scanned Android files at no cost before retrieving them to the computer.
  • Recover messages, contacts, photos, apps, and many other data types from Android.
  • Retrieve data from Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus, Google Pixel, and other Android devices.


How to recover lost data on Android using the FoneGeek Android Data Recovery tool:

Step 1: Download and install the FoneGeek Android Data Recovery on your Windows or Mac computer. Launch the program and choose "Recover Lost Data."

recover lost data android

Step 2: Plug in your Android phone to the computer with a USB cable. Once the device is recognized, click "Next" to continue.

connect android device

Step 3: Now choose all the file types you want to recover and click the "Start" button to scan all deleted files on the phone.

start scan android data

Step 4: FoneGeel will perform a standard scan and display the deleted and non-deleted data it finds in the phone's memory. Now, select the deleted files you want, and then click "Recover" to save the data to the computer.

preview lost photos android


Not all Android apps have a trash folder for storing deleted data, and even those that do sometimes may not contain certain deleted files. Therefore, you may accidentally delete some important files on your phone and not find them in any of the trash folders. In this situation, the best solution is to use FoneGeek Android Data Recovery. This tool utilizes an efficient data recovery process that can retrieve deleted files on Android phones without dedicated trash folders. It's easy to use, and it can recover all data types, so try it out.

Fay J. Melton

Fay J. Melton has explored the area of technology and software for more than 5 years and he is enthusiastic about helping users solve various technology issues.

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