Deleting Windows Temp Files

Windows 95, 98, ME and XP

 

Although Windows offers a "Disk Clean-up" tool with these operating systems, I've found that many temporary files are left untouched by this process. Thus, I offer an alternative on this "How To" page.

First, let's review the definition of a temporary file. A temporary file is any file created by a download, a program installation, or a program that opens as you use your computer that is used temporarily and is normally deleted when you shut your computer off. Generally, temporary files end with the extension .tmp.

So, if your computer deletes these files, why do we need to know how to delete them manually? Good question. Unfortunately, our computers aren't always shut off in the "normal" fashion. Think of the times your computer has "frozen" on you and you had to hit Control-Alt-Delete, or the reset button or worse yet, pull the plug. How about times when the electric goes off and you aren't using a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)? Anything that causes the computer to shut off without going through it's normal shut down routine invariably leaves .tmp files behind.

Do temporary files harm your computer if left on? Well, not really harm. Still, they can take up space for no reason and they can cause your computer to run slower than usual. It's a good idea to check for these temporary files once or twice a month and delete any that are hanging around. One word of caution - any temporary file that is currently in use at the time you are cleaning files will not be deleted. You will get a warning and the thing to do is simply forget about deleting those files at that time.

Now, let's move on to how to manually delete these temporary files. First, you need to know where the temporary files are located. In Windows 95, 98 and ME, the files are found in a folder named TEMP under the Windows directory. Assuming Windows is on your C drive - you'd find the files at C:\Windows\Temp. For Windows XP, the .tmp files are found under Documents and Settings then the user name, then Local Settings. For example, C:\Documents and Settings\John\Local Settings\Temp. So, that means if you have 3 different people using Windows XP, there can be three different folders containing .tmp files. Obviously, it's good for everyone to know how to delete these files.

As with most things in the Windows Operating System, there is more than one way to go about deleting these files. I'll deal with the "My Computer" method.

My Computer - Windows 95, 98 and Me

1) From your desktop, open My Computer.

2) Open your C drive (Assuming that's where your operating system resides).

3) Find the folder named "Windows" and open it.

4) Next, find the folder named "Temp" and open it.

5) Now you will see all the temporary files in the folder.

Go to the top of the "My Computer" window and click on the drop down menu "Edit."

6) From the Edit menu, choose "Select All" All of the files should be highlighted.

 

7) Click on the icon at the top named "Delete" If no icon exists with that name, you can right click on any highlighted file and choose "Delete" from the menu that will appear.

8) Answer "Yes" when asked if you are sure you want to delete these items.

9) Should you receive the warning telling you that a file cannot be deleted, do the following: Single click on the file that can't be deleted, highlighting it. Now, go to the "Edit" menu again but this time choose "Invert Selection." All the files except the one that couldn't be deleted will now be highlight. Click on the "Delete" icon again, answer Yes at the warning and the files should be deleted.

10) Remember, these deleted files are now in your Recycle Bin. If you want to totally removed them from your computer you will need to empty the Recycle Bin.

My Computer - Windows XP

1) From your desktop, open My Computer.

2) Open your C drive (Assuming that's where your operating system resides).

3) Find the folder named "Documents and Settings" and open it.

4) Find the folder with your name - open it.

5) Find the folder named "Local Settings" and open it.

6) Find the folder named Temp and open it.

7) Now you will see all the temporary files in the folder. Go to the top of the "My Computer" window and click on the drop down menu "Edit."

8) From the Edit menu, choose "Select All" All of the files should be highlighted.

9) Click on the icon at the top named "Delete" If no icon exists with that name, you can right click on any highlighted file and choose "Delete" from the menu that will appear.

10) Answer "Yes" when asked if you are sure you want to delete these items.

11) Should you receive the warning telling you that a file cannot be deleted, do the following: Single click on the file that can't be deleted, highlighting it. Now, go to the "Edit" menu again but this time choose "Invert Selection." All the files except the one that couldn't be deleted will now be highlight. Click on the "Delete" icon again, answer Yes at the warning and the files should be deleted.

12) Remember, these deleted files are now in your Recycle Bin. If you want to totally removed them from your computer you will need to empty the Recycle Bin.

Should you have any questions, concerns or problems, feel free to contact me so that I can help you.

2013 Keystone Computer Concepts, Inc