How to remove temporary files on Windows 10

Temporary files are usually referred to those files that apps store on your computer to hold information temporarily. However, on Windows 10 there are many other temporary file types, including those leftover files after updating the operating system, upgrade logs, error reporting, temporary Windows installation files, and more.

Typically, these files won’t cause any issues, but they can grow rapidly using valuable space on your hard drive, which can be the reason preventing you to install a new version of Windows 10 or it can be the reason that you’re running out of space.

Fortunately, Windows 10 offers a few ways to safely remove temporary files on your machine using the Settings app and the Disk Cleanup tool.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to quickly delete temporary files on Windows 10 to free up space, or to reclaim storage space after installing a feature update, such as the Creators Update.

How to remove temporary files using Settings

On Windows 10, you can use the Settings app to remove temporary files manually or automatically starting with the Creators Update.

To manually remove temporary files on Windows 10 using Settings, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on Storage.

  4. Click the primary drive, which typically is the This PC (C:) drive.

    Storage settings on Windows 10

  5. Click on Temporary files.

    Storage usage, Temporary files

  6. Select the files you want to delete. It should be noted that temporary files include those temporary files from apps, files in the Downloads folder, those in the recycle bin, and previous installation files.

  7. Click the Remove files to complete the task.

    Remove temporary files on Windows 10

Once you completed the steps, those files you selected will be permanently deleted from your computer freeing up space for more valuable files.

If you’re deleting a previous version of Windows 10, consider that you won’t be able to roll back to an earlier version without these files. However, after a feature update installs on your computer, the operating system automatically removes these files anyways after 10 days.

Automatically remove temporary files using Storage sense

Starting with the Windows 10 Creators Update, you can use “Storage sense” to automatically free up space by removing those temporary files and content from the recycle bin.

To automatically delete files that you don’t need on Windows 10 using Settings, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on Storage.

  4. Turn on the Storage sense toggle switch.

    Storage sense settings on Windows 10

After completing the steps, Windows 10 will automatically delete temporary files and those files that have been in the recycle bin for over 30 days.

You can also click the Change how we free up space link to choose whether to delete only temp files or recycle bin files, or both. This page also includes a Clean now button if you’re running out of space and you need to free up space immediately.

Storage sense options

How to remove temporary files using Disk Cleanup

If you’re getting a message that your device is running out of space, you can also use the Disk Cleanup tool to delete temporary files to free up space on your computer.

To remove temporary files from Windows 10 using Disk Cleanup, do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Click on This PC.

  3. Right-click the drive with the Windows 10 installation and select Properties.

  4. Click the Disk Cleanup button.

    Windows 10 hard drive properties

  5. Click the Cleanup system files button.

  6. Check the items you want to delete. For example, Temporary Windows Installation Files, Windows upgrade log files, Recycle Bin, Temporary Files, and System created Windows Error Reporting.

    Disk cleanup system files

  7. Click OK.

  8. Click Delete Files to complete the task.

Once you completed the steps, files will permanently be deleted from your computer making room for new files.