You may still use Disk Cleanup on Windows 11 (even though Microsoft does not want you to)

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 6, 2021
Updated • Oct 1, 2021
Windows 11 Help

Microsoft continues to push the Settings application in Windows 11 just like it has done in Windows 10. The latest victim of the replacement policy is the classic Disk Cleanup tool. Used among other things to clean up old versions of Windows to free up Gigabytes of storage space, Microsoft announced in 2018 that it would replace the classic tool with Storage Sense, which it added to the operating system's Settings application.

Up until now, Disk Cleanup was accessible from the Properties dialog window of drives. Microsoft replaced the link to the Disk Cleanup tool with a link to Storage Sense in the latest Windows 11 build.

While it is still possible to load Disk Cleanup directly, it is no longer possible to open it from a drive's properties dialog.

windows 11-drive-properties storage usage

Activation of the Storage usage button opens the Storage used on other drives page of the Settings application. The page lists the capacity of all drives and the free and used storage ratio. It takes another click to display how storage is used on the drive.

storage usage settings

Options to cleanup files are not displayed on the page. It is necessary to open the main Storage page in the settings to get that option (or select Start > Settings > System > Storage). Select Cleanup recommendations and Windows displays cleanup options on the page that follows.

Disk Cleanup tool is the better application

disk cleanup

The entire process is not as straightforward as using the Disk Cleanup tool. Opening issues aside, Cleanup recommendations is not nearly as user friendly as the Disk Cleanup tool. Disk Cleanup offers an immediate view of all items that can be cleaned up; while you may need to click on the "clean up system files" button after the program has launched to get more cleaning options, it is faster and provides a better view of items that can be removed from the system to free up disk space.

Tip: you may speed up the system files loading part of Disk Cleanup.

Disk Cleanup is still present in the latest Windows 11 build, and chance is high that it remains an option initially after Windows 11 is released.

Windows 11 users may launch it by typing Disk Cleanup in Start. Windows 11 displays the tool as the first result and it may be opened this way. There is a chance that Microsoft is going to alter the result manually, so that the Storage settings page is opened instead.

You may then still load it by opening the Run box with the shortcut Windows-R to launch cleanmgr.exe.

Eventually, Disk Cleanup will be removed from Windows. Windows users who prefer the tool may use third-party alternatives instead. There is Cleanmgr+, an open source alternative that replicates the functionality, which may be used instead.

It looks different but it offers the same cleaning options as the classic Disk Cleanup tool.


Closing Words

The replacing of the Disk Cleanup button with the link to the Storage Settings page marks another step in the removal of the Disk Cleanup tool from Windows. Thankfully, there is a third-party alternative available that works equally well and may be used by users who prefer Disk Cleanup over Microsoft's own reinterpretation of the tool.

Now You: do you use Disk Cleanup or other cleanup tools?

You may still use Disk Cleanup on Windows 11 (even though Microsoft does not want you to)
Article Name
You may still use Disk Cleanup on Windows 11 (even though Microsoft does not want you to)
Microsoft replaced the Disk Cleanup link in the properties window of drives in the latest Windows 11 build with a link to the Settings app.
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  1. Scoop said on September 12, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Cleanup still exists if you go to This PC – left click drive – Goto toolbar – and selct the three dots menu, cleanup is in there

  2. Frank D Alessi said on September 8, 2021 at 3:44 am

    There is so much tweaks, updates-to-avoid, tricks and patches to do on Windows nowadays, it’s unbearable. The best solution is to avoid Windows, or if you have some specific demand, install it on a machine without internet at all.

  3. RobG said on September 7, 2021 at 11:31 am

    People are starting to get wise to Microsoft’s manipulation tactics. Even the normally conservative but hugely influential ‘Which’ magazine says this:-

    “Microsoft does have a track record of subtly forcing people to upgrade to a new operating system; when it launched Windows 10, many people complained of nagging notifications and upgrade prompts, and even automatic updates they didn’t ask for. “We hope Microsoft has learned from the backlash this created last time around”.

    Some hope!

    “Windows 11: what you need to know”
    – It’s the biggest update to Windows since 2015, but is it worth getting excited over? We give you the key facts

  4. S20Q said on September 7, 2021 at 7:14 am

    When MS they have already made a dark theme for the entire interface.
    I’m tired of opening a white notepad on a dark background.
    Cuts eyes :((

    1. matthiew said on September 13, 2021 at 4:58 am

      Check out Notepad3. It’s just as quick and easy to use as Notepad, but has extra features such as a dark theme and syntax highlighting.

  5. Dennis Bareis said on September 7, 2021 at 6:41 am

    Actually storage sense looks like the better option to me as the actions can be scheduled (removing old recycle bin files or temporary files automatically, many a script has been written just to do this).

    It seems stupid that they didn’t replace the “Disk Cleanup” button in a drive’s properties with “Storage Sense” (whether just the link or the button text as well).

    1. Jeff M.S. said on September 8, 2021 at 5:06 pm

      Cleanmgr can be scheduled and automated too with parameters (/sagerun) since Windows 98 :) You just haven’t figured it out.

  6. Vlad said on September 7, 2021 at 2:29 am

    > There is Cleanmgr+, an open source alternative

    It looks like the link is dead. When trying to download using link in the related article, a browser opens “3dtechvalley” and there is no “Cleanmgr+” there.

  7. Anonymous said on September 6, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    Yet another downgrade. Windows 10 looks better every new build of Windows 11. Settings is not a proper replacement for disk cleanup. Disk cleanup is straight forward tells me right away what I need to clean. Storage view is a mess and confusing, requires more clicks. What the hell am I even looking at?

  8. Matt said on September 6, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    At this point I don’t think Microsoft wants anyone to use Windows 11.

  9. ilev said on September 6, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    I use Disk Cleanup with Admin ‘more options’ to clean System restore and Shadow copies (leaving just the last one) before creating a full image copy of my system.
    Cleanmgr+ doesn’t have this option.

  10. Martin P. said on September 6, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    Seems MS is working as much as it can to “evolve” Windows with (much) downgraded functions while removing what’s been working (much) better before…

    I’d like to know who are the geniuses at Microsoft who promote these “improvements”. Are they considering that most if not all Windows users as so incapable of understanding even the basic concepts of what makes their computer work?

  11. RossN said on September 6, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    Currently using Disk Cleanup, CCleaner, BleachBit, Clean Space 7, PatchCleaner every few months – usually after taking an image of my boot drive.

    1. Emil said on September 8, 2021 at 8:36 am

      Especially Patchcleaner – it cleaned ~18 GB of piled up junk the first time I used it. Seems to be the only tool that targets this particular dump.
      Windows is so embarassingly bad.

    2. Anonymous said on September 7, 2021 at 12:16 am

      Here I was thinking I was the one going ridiculously OTT on my old system that has a tiny SSD (horrendously expensive when I bought the PC).

      Open Source DISM++ has the capability to do the equivalent of a DISM cleanup if you are still running Windows 7 (which doesn’t have DISM cleanup available). It did great a great job freeing space from my WinSxS when the SSD was in the red. Over 33% of the disk space recovered.

      I would not use it for DISM cleanup on Windows 10 or later (use inbuilt DISM cleanup commands instead). Other cleanup utilities will take care of the other things it does. So, Windows 7 only and use at your own risk.

  12. John C. said on September 6, 2021 at 11:03 am

    One has to wonder how the M$ spin doctors will try to put a positive bend on the loss of this feature. I wish they would stop implementing change just for change’s sake.

    1. RobG said on September 7, 2021 at 11:40 am

      > I wish they would stop implementing change just for change’s sake.<

      I'm pretty sure Microsoft has a plan, even if it's simply to create chaos ;-) …

      "How the hell is Microsoft already screwing up Windows 11 this badly?"
      – What should've been an exciting run up to Windows 11's launch has instead been frustrating, messy, and vague.

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