AVG Signal Blog Performance Cleaning How to Delete Temporary Files From Your Windows PC

Written by Sandro Villinger & Ivan Belcic
Published on September 9, 2021

What are temporary files?

Temporary files, also called temp or tmp files, are created by Windows or programs on your computer to hold data while a permanent file is being written or updated. The data will be transferred to a permanent file when the task is complete, or when the program is closed.

This article contains:

    Temp files often have the extension .TMP and are stored in the C:\Users\AppData\Local\Temp folder.

    If you’re working on a document, your word-processing app may create a temporary file to track your progress. If the app crashes, you’ll be able to recover your data from the temp file. The software that created the temp file should also automatically delete temporary files from Windows 10 when they’re no longer needed.

    But when automatic removal doesn’t happen, temporary files become junk files that build up, waste storage space, and gunk up your computer. This is when it’s time to permanently delete those files from your Windows PC.

    How to delete temporary files in Windows

    You can manually delete temporary files in Windows 10, 8, and 7 in three ways:

    Each of these methods will help you identify the folders and locations that store temporary files. We’ll make sure you know which ones are safe to remove before you empty any locations. Go through each method one by one to clear as many temp files from your computer as you can.

    Delete temp files in Windows 10, 8, and 7 with Disk Cleanup

    Disk Cleanup is a built-in Windows utility that deletes temporary files on Windows by scanning your drive. It’ll find your Windows 10, 8, or 7 temp folder and other storage locations, and then clear out some of the temp files and other junk taking up space.

    Set up a shortcut to clear temp files with Disk Cleanup at any time:

    1. In Windows 10, 8, 7, and XP, right-click your Desktop and select New Shortcut.

    2. Enter the following text:

      %SystemRoot%\System32\Cmd.exe /c Cleanmgr /sageset:65535 &Cleanmgr /sagerun:6553

      Creating a shortcut for Disk Cleanup in Windows 10
    3. Click Next and name your new shortcut. Right-click on your Desktop and select Run as Administrator.

    4. Select all the file types to delete, including several types of temporary files. If you’re not sure what something is, highlight it and read the description.

      Clearing temporary files with the Disk Cleanup tool in Windows 10
    5. Click OK to delete your selected file types.

    Disk Cleanup finds tmp files in several locations and can remove:

    • Temporary setup and program files, and other .TMP files.

    • Old CHKDSK files.

    • Setup logs.

    • Windows Update and Windows upgrade leftover files.

    • Windows Defender leftovers.

    • Temporary internet files and offline webpages.

    • System error memory dump files.

    • Windows error reporting files.

    • Thumbnails and user file history.

    Deleting the above file types is unlikely to free up more than several hundred megabytes at most. For a more thorough cleaning, look to specialized apps like AVG TuneUp. It’s designed to scour every nook and cranny of your PC to find hidden temp file folders and remove other useless bloatware.

    Try AVG TuneUp now with a free scan to see just how much junk is clogging up your PC.

    Delete temp files in Windows 10, 8, and 7 by cleaning up your browser

    Browsers leave behind a lot of temporary files and other data, such as cached websites, cookies, and your browsing history. You can clean your browser and delete these temporary files on Windows 10, 8, and 7.

    Here’s how to delete browsing data in Google Chrome for Windows 10:

    1. Open Chrome and click the three dots in the upper-right corner.

    2. Select History, then History again.

      Opening the History settings in Google Chrome
    3. Select Clear browsing data from the left-side menu in the new tab.

      The History settings in Google Chrome, with the "Clear browsing data" option highlighted
    4. Select the types of browser data to delete, choose a time range from the drop-down menu, and click Clear data.

      Clearing browsing data in Google Chrome

    Common types of browsing data include:

    • Cache: Your browser caches, or stores, data from websites you visit so it can load these websites more quickly next time. But if your cache gets too big, it can slow your browser down.

    • Cookies: Websites use cookies to remember things about you. Some cookies are helpful, but many websites use third-party cookies to track you around the internet and collect your data. Online advertisers use cookies to serve you “personalized” ads. Delete cookies to free up space and protect your data.

    • History: Your browsing history is a record of every site you visit, while your search history contains everything you’ve searched for. Clear your browsing and search history to keep your online activity private when letting others use your computer.

    • Saved passwords: You can store passwords in your browser to autofill them in the future, but it’s usually more secure to use a password manager instead.

    If you use multiple browsers, you’ll need to repeat this process in each of them. Save time with AVG TuneUp — in addition to clearing out temporary files created by Windows and other programs, it’ll also clean up browsing data in every browser on your device.

    Delete temp files in Windows by finding huge files

    It’s easy to forget about large files like movies, TV shows, old design projects, video games you don’t play anymore, and so on. These files are “temporary” because while you may have needed them before, you don’t need them now. Delete these temp files in Windows 10, 8, and 7 at least once a month to free up gigabytes of space at a time.

    Delete temp files by finding huge files in Windows 10 and 8

    The process for finding and deleting massive files in Windows 10 and 8 is the same. Here’s how:

    1. Open Windows Explorer by clicking the file icon in your Taskbar. If you don’t see it, type Windows Explorer into the Start menu to open it.

    2. Click This PC and enter size in the search field.

      Searching for files by size in Windows Explorer.
    3. Click Size in the top navigation panel and select Gigantic.

      Sorting files by size in Windows Explorer for Windows 10
    4. Delete some or all of the tmp files you find. Some large files may be system files that are important for your PC to work properly, so take care when emptying folders.

    Delete temp files by finding huge files in Windows 7

    1. Open Windows Explorer by clicking the file icon in your Taskbar or by typing Windows Explorer into the Start menu and selecting it from the results.

    2. Type size:gigantic into the search field, then press Enter.

      Identifying gigantic files with Windows Explorer for Windows 7
    3. Delete any files you don’t need. Be careful not to remove important system files.

    If you’re not sure what a specific large file is or does, look it up online before deleting it. You don’t want to accidentally delete anything that your computer needs.

    Why should I delete temporary files?

    You should regularly delete temporary files to free up space, speed up your computer, and reduce the risk of errors, bugs, and crashes. When your drive gets too full, it can slow down — and you won’t have any room to save new files.

    Low disk space makes your computer perform worse. Insufficient space will make programs run slowly, increase load times, risk 100% disk usage, and trigger an endless series of error messages and alerts.

    An alert message for low disk space on Windows 7

    For example, when your computer is low on RAM (random access memory), Windows creates a “paging file” on your drive that works as additional RAM. But if your hard drive doesn’t have enough space, Windows can’t create more — and your computer’s performance will suffer until you free up space or upgrade your RAM.

    Excessive clutter also causes bugs and crashes. When Windows and the apps on your PC run out of space to create their files, they’ll stop working well. 

    Is it safe to delete temp files?

    Yes, it’s safe to delete temporary files from Windows. Most of the time, they’ll be deleted automatically — if they’re not, you can go in and delete them yourself without any worries.

    Most programs will create temp files in a folder called C:\Users\AppData\Local\Temp — that’s likely where your computer stores the majority of your temporary files. It’s safe to empty out the AppData\Local\Temp folder and delete the temp files you find there.

    If you’re ever unsure about a file before deleting it, do a quick online search to find out more.

    Clean up temporary files on your Windows PC with AVG TuneUp

    By automatically finding every bit of space-hogging junk on your PC — including temporary files and so much more — AVG TuneUp keeps your computer free of unwanted bloat. AVG TuneUp is an automated, hands-off maintenance tool that regularly removes temporary files, bloatware, browser data, and anything else that doesn’t need to be on your machine.

    Then, all you’ll need to do is enjoy your newly optimized PC that performs faster and has all the storage space you need.

    Remove temp files and free up space with AVG Cleaner

    Free install

    Protect your iPhone against security threats with AVG Mobile Security

    Free install
    Sandro Villinger & Ivan Belcic