How to Delete Google Drive Files Permanently on iPhone, Android, Windows PC and Mac

After being the established name in the business for the past many years, Google Drive has achieved the distinction of being the default hard drive you may use to store files you regularly use across your devices. But similar to the hard drives and external drives we’re used to, even the space on your Google Drive has a limited capacity. 

If you own a regular consumer Google account like most of us, then chances are that you’ve almost filled up the 15GB of Google Drive space to the brim. If you don’t want to pay for additional storage, then clearing up some space from your Drive is the only way to keep using it. 

That’s why in this post, we’ll help you permanently delete files from your Google Drive across all the devices that you own. 

Related: How to make sure your Google Photos sync to Google Drive

Delete Google Drive Files

For the purpose of keeping your data safe, Google Drive doesn’t have a Delete permanently button when interacting with your files on a device. However, you can get rid of the files you upload on the service once and for all in fairly simple steps on any device. 

On a Computer (Windows, Mac, ChromeOS)

To delete files from Google Drive forever when using it on your computer, go to the Google Drive homepage on a web browser you regularly use and sign in to your Google account if you haven’t already. 

Select a file or folder you want to delete permanently by clicking on them. You can select multiple files or folders to delete by pressing the “Command” key (on macOS) or the “Ctrl” key (on Windows or ChromeOS) while highlighting the files and folders you wish to delete. 

Once you have highlighted the files you want to delete, click the trash icon at the top right corner of the page. When you do this, the selected file will be only moved to your Google Drive trash. Alternatively, you can also right-click on the files and select the ‘Remove’ option. 

To delete the files and folder forever, click on the ‘Trash’ tab from the left sidebar. 

If Google Drive’s Trash only consists of the files you previously deleted, click on the ‘Empty trash’ option from the top right corner. 

If there are other files you wish to keep on trash but want to permanently delete the ones you just moved to Google Drive’s Trash, then you can delete them by selecting them and then clicking on the trash icon at the top right. 

You will be asked to confirm this process through a ‘Delete forever?’ dialog. To complete the deletion process, click on the ‘Delete forever’ option from within the dialog box.

The selected files and folders will now be permanently removed from your Google Drive and will no longer be available for access. 

Related: How to sync a local folder with Google Drive on your Android device

On Android

If you use Google Drive on your Android smartphone, you can permanently delete files from it directly with the Google Drive app. To get started, open the Google Drive app on Android and tap on the ‘Files’ tab from the bottom. 

If you want to delete a file or a folder one by one, tap on the 3-dots icon adjacent to the file or folder name.

To move the selected file to trash, tap on the ‘Remove’ option from the popup menu. 

For deleting multiple files and folders at once, tap and hold on any file you wish to delete and then tap on other files you want to delete together. After you have made your selection, tap on the trash icon at the top. 

You will be asked to confirm the deletion process. To do this, tap on the ‘Move to bin’ option on the dialog that appears. Your files will now be moved to the trash section inside Google Drive. 

Your next step is to delete the selected files indefinitely. To do this, tap the hamburger menu from the top left corner of the screen and select the ‘Bin’ tab from the left sidebar. 

Inside the Bin, tap and hold on to the files and folders you wish to remove permanently. After making your selection, tap on the 3-dots icon at the top right corner. 

In the popup that appears, select the ‘Delete forever’ option. 

You will be asked to confirm the deletion and to do this, tap on the ‘Delete forever’ option in the dialog that pops up. 

The selected files will now be deleted from Google Drive. 

Related: 6 Reasons why Google Files should be your default file manager

On iOS

Deleting files from Google Drive on iOS is pretty similar to how you do it on Android. For this, open the Google Drive app on your iPhone and tap on the ‘Files’ tab from the bottom toolbar. 

Now, you can delete a file or a folder one by one by tapping on the 3-dots icon adjacent to the file or folder name.

Then select the ‘Remove’ option from the menu that pops up. 

For deleting multiple files and folders together, tap and hold on any file you wish to delete and then tap on other files you want to delete together. After you have made your selection, tap on the 3-dots icon at the top.

When the popup appears at the bottom portion of the screen, select the ‘Remove’ option.

Confirm the file deletion process by tapping on the ‘Move to Bin’ option in the dialog. The selected files will be moved to trash. 

The next step is to delete the files permanently from the trash folder. To get to this folder, tap on the hamburger menu from the top left corner, and select the ‘Bin’ tab from the sidebar that appears on the left. 

If your trash section consists only of the files you just moved to it, you can simply empty it and delete the files from it forever. To do this, tap on the 3-dots icon at the top right corner of the trash screen and then select the ‘Empty Bin’ option. 

You can also delete the files in the trash individually by tapping the 3-dots icon adjacent to the respective file name.

Then select the ‘Delete forever’ option from the popup menu. 

Confirm this by tapping the ‘Delete forever’ button in the dialog that appears.

The selected files will now be removed from your Google Drive account on a permanent basis. 

Related: How to scan documents and store them online on Android

Delete files you shared with others on Google Drive

If you had previously shared a bunch of files with someone else on Google Drive, you might need to follow additional steps before deleting them as the files will get inaccessible for the people you shared them with. So, when deleting shared files, it’s important to decide whether or not to allow the people you shared with the ability to own the file so you can remove it without hindering others’ work. 

Spot which files you have shared with others

Unlike the files that are shared with you, things you share with others aren’t located at a different tab inside Google Drive and are instead available inside the ‘My Drive’ section as all of your other files you uploaded to the platform. This means, that the files you share with someone will be located in the same main folder where other unshared files exist. 

You can however identify the files you shared with someone by looking for a ‘user’ icon adjacent to the file names. 

Folders you have shared with others will be marked with a ‘user’ icon inside the folder icon. 

You can view whom you’ve shared the files and folders to by right-clicking on them and clicking on the ‘View details’ option from the menu. 

This should load up the details of the file or folder in a sidebar that appears on the right.

Here, you will be able to look at the people you have shared the file with along with other file details. 

Make sure others download a copy (Optional)

To make sure others’ work isn’t hindered by you deleting the files you shared, you can request them to download a copy so that you can get rid of them with ease. To make sure others are able to download a copy of your shared file, right-click on it, and select ‘Share’. 

Next, click on the cogwheel icon at the top right corner of the dialog that appears.

In the next screen, check the box adjacent to the ‘Viewers and commenters can see the option to download, print, and copy’ option and then click on ‘Save’. 

This way, all viewers with access to your files can download and print the contents of your file first before you proceed to delete them. 

Additionally, if you trust someone else with access to your files, you can transfer its ownership to them so that they may control everything related to it in the future. You can do so by right-clicking on a file, selecting the ‘Share’ option, and then click on the role type adjacent to the person you want to transfer ownership to. From the list of options, click on the ‘Make owner’ option to get the job done. 

Related: How to save photos online for free using Google Photos

Delete files you have shared

After you have made sure others have either copied your files or have ownership rights to them, you can go ahead and delete them like you would with all other files on Google Drive. Select the files and folders you want to delete by highlighting them (using Cntrl or Command keys for multiple files) and then clicking the trash icon at the top right corner. 

When the files have been moved to trash, you can delete them permanently by using the ‘Trash’ option inside Google Drive’s Trash section. 

Delete files shared with you on Google Drive

You can remove the files that were shared with you on Google Drive pretty easily. To delete files that were shared by others, go to the ‘Shared with me’ tab from the left sidebar inside Google Drive. 

Here, you will be able to see a list of all the files that someone else shared with you on the service along with their name and the share date.

 

Select the files and folders you want to delete by highlighting them (using Cntrl or Command keys for multiple files) and then clicking the trash icon at the top right corner. 

When the files have been moved to trash, you can delete them permanently by using the ‘Empty trash’ option inside Google Drive’s Trash section. 

Delete your Recent files from Google Drive

If you no longer wish to use the files you may have accessed recently, then Google Drive lets you quickly spot them among your other files using the ‘Recent’ section. To get here, go to Google Drive’s main screen and click on the ‘Recent’ tab from the left sidebar. 

You will be able to see the files you accessed on different dates like ‘Today’, ‘Last Week’, ‘Last month’, and more. 

To delete multiple files and folders from this section, highlight them (using Cntrl or Command keys for multiple files) and then click on the trash icon at the top right corner. 

When the files have been moved to trash, you can delete them permanently by using the ‘Empty trash’ option inside Google Drive’s Trash section.

Can you recover permanently deleted files from Google Drive?

If you permanently deleted files from your Google Drive, you should know that you won’t be able to recover them yourself. However, there’s one way to recover them and that is to contact Google to request to initiate the recovery process. For this process to complete, you should be using Google Drive with a consumer account. 

To recover permanently deleted files from your Drive, go to this page and select the ‘Missing or deleted files’ under the ‘Select your issue’. 

Inside the text box under ‘How can we help you?’, type your concerns and mention what kind of files you’re looking to recover. Click on ‘Submit’ after that to report your issue. A Google Drive Specialist will get in touch with you and you can share your problems with them to get them resolved. 

For GSuite account users, you will have to contact your GSuite administrator to restore the files that were deleted within the past 25 days of deletion. 

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Ajaay

Ambivalent, unprecedented, and on the run from everyone's idea of reality. A consonance of love for filter coffee, cold weather, Arsenal, AC/DC, and Sinatra.

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