Whinging about UAC is for wimps, this is a real Windows Vista annoyance.

1. Open Windows Explorer and navigate through the folder tree in the left pane (eg, navigate to C:Temp)


2. Drag and select one or more files or folders in the right pane that you would like to delete


3. Hit delete


Windows Vista wants to delete the Temp folder that you had last selected in the left pane, not the files or folders you just selected in the right pane.  Windows XP or Server 2003 would delete the files you had selected in the right pane.

This feature was stinging me about once a week when I first started using Vista.  Now it catches me out far less often, but it is still very annoying when it does.  Even more annoying is if you are being reckless and hit Yes (the default answer) without really reading the dialog, or are using Shift + Del to bypass the Recycle Bin, or are deleting files from a network drive (when Recycle Bin does not come into play).

Its a very annoying feature, but luckily it won’t be a problem for me any longer.

About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for Practical365.com.


  1. Paul

    The screenshots tell the story. Focus stayed on the left pane when I selected files or folders in the right pane, and so the delete would take effect on the left pane. It was happening on two Vista Business laptops, one a Dell OEM build, the other a clean install from NFR media.

    That said, this is a 6 month old post and I haven’t used Vista since. Its possible SP1 or a patch included a fix (either deliberately or inadvertently) for the bug. If I happen to be on a Vista machine anytime soon I’ll retest and update the post.

  2. Jared Van Leeuwen

    I just tried to repro your problem on my Vista laptop and it’s not happening. I drill down to a folder with the left pane, I select drag to select items, and when I do the focus changes. So when I hit delete (I tried both delete and backspace) the confirmation questions about the items from the right pane.

  3. alex talarico

    … i cannot repro this issue – was it made up? i never had this problem in vista… check where i’m posting from 🙂

  4. Death Before Vista

    All these years and networked files still don’t go to the recycle bin… Microsoft still designs their software around their needs, not yours.

    On XP right now (mainly because of legacy software and legacy clients), but I will never buy another Microsof OS with my own dollars. I’d sooner set them alight.

    (Yeah, that goes for Visual Studio, too, @(#*$%ers!)

    Oh yeah … and that thing /you/ were ranting about…

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