How to Delete Temp Files (including Windows 8)

Almost every application will create temporary files while it is running.  This is especially true when sending print jobs to the printer.  The print job is queued to a temp file before it is added to the printer queue.  When the application closes, these files should automatically close as well.  However, when an application locks up, these temporary files may be orphaned.  Over time these files may accumulate and cause problems.

Whenever I see the word ‘temp’ anywhere in an error message, the first thing I do is clear my temp files.

Before Windows 8, this was pretty easy.


STEP #1:  Make sure you are logged out of all programs – including those on your taskbar (see below)!  By right-clicking on the icon on your taskbar, you will almost always have a Close or Exit option in the pop-up menu.


STEP #2: Open the folder containing your temp files.

Before Windows 8, this could easily be done by clicking on the Start menu, then typing %temp% in the run bar.


Windows 8 – especially on a Terminal Server – can be a bit more challenging.  I’ve found the easiest way to navigate in the new OS is to use the search utility.  If you can swipe in from the right side of your touchscreen, the charms bar will display.  If you only have a keyboard, you will need to hover in the lower right corner to the right of the date and time, then click on the search button on the charms bar.  Type %temp% in the search bar and press Enter.


STEP #3:  Select all the files

To select all the files, you could go old school by clicking on the first item in the list, and then hold down the shift key and click the last item in the list.  (By the way – this is a universal Windows selection technique and works with almost everything).

If you are more click oriented, in Windows 7, you can click the Organize option on the menu bar, then Select all.


With Windows 8, there should be a Select All option directly on the toolbar.


STEP #4:  Delete!

STEP #5:  I usually recommend a restart, if for no other reason that it will likely reload all those apps you had running in the taskbar.

You may get some pop-up messages that some temp files can’t be removed.  This is usually okay and is just files that are currently in use by either one of the applications you forgot to close, or one that you couldn’t close.  As long as you are sure you closed the application that is throwing the error message, you should be golden.

Bear in mind, deleting temp files does not fix all issues – but it also doesn’t hurt anything, and is a great practice to do after any kind of lock-up.

For additional technical questions on this topic, feel free to contact us.

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