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Issue #735: August 22-28, 2021

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Q: I accidently deleted something that was in my Spam folder and then realized that I need it. Can I get this back?

 – Spouse Peripheral
Blue Water Bay, Florida

A:  The simple answer to the question as asked is “no”.  But, there are almost never any simple answers when it comes to computers.  There is usually an exception, or an alternate way of doing something, or the same name or term applies to multiple things.  Since I have a diverse group of readers, none of whom I expect can read my mind, I will make a (lame) attempt to explain what I mean.

First of all, let’s talk about the difference between Delete and Trash.  Depending on which e-mail client you use, you might not see both of these, in which case the difference is moot. But if you do see these two terms, you will only see them in your e-mail program, and it’s important for you to understand that they do not mean the same thing.  To put it simply, “Trash” means to move the message to the Trash can (also called Deleted Items, or something similar depending on your software).  On the other hand, “Delete” means to destroy it in-place.  No recovery, no restoring it, no undo.  In SP’s case, she used a delete function, so the item in question is irretrievably gone.

There is a similar analogy within Windows itself, when it comes to file management. Windows has Delete too, but no Trash option.  By default, Delete sends items to the Recycle Bin, and you can easily recover these supposedly deleted files.  The problem is, that files in the Recycle Bin continue to occupy space on your hard drive.  Once you’re certain that you will never want to recover these deleted files, you can empty the Recycle Bin.  This makes the deletion permanent and recovers the disk space.

Now, here is a real Geek tip for you.  If, while deleting files, you’re absolutely sure that you want to make the deletion permanent, you can tell Windows to bypass the Recycle Bin altogether. You do so by holding the Shift key while initiating the delete operation.  (I say it that way because there are at least 4 ways of telling Windows to delete files, and I’m not trying to tell you which one to use.)  If you use the method that sends the file or files to the Recycle Bin, Windows either will move the files without prompting you, or will ask “Are you sure you want to move these file(s) to the Recycle Bin?”  If you use the method that results in the files being immediately deleted without going to the Recycle Bin, Windows will prompt you with a dialog that reads “Are you sure you want to permanently delete these items?”  If you choose “No” it will be as if you had never initiated the deletion at all.  But if you choose “Yes” the files will be immediately destroyed.

• • •

This is another call for reader questions, as my queue is dry.  Surely there are Geeks and Geek Wanna-Bes reading this who have issues that are frustrating you?  Well, I want to hear from you!  It doesn’t have to be about computers either.  I field questions about every aspect of technology.  So, whether it’s something you’re trying to get your so-called smart speaker to do (Alexa, Google Home, etc.), a question about stuff your SmartTV is capable of, I’m ready to deal with it for you!  Want a Smart Home, but don’t have a clue where to start?  Ask me!  There is so much more to the world of technology.  It all might be Geek to you, but I eat this stuff for breakfast, and I’m only too happy to share.

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