Quick and easy speed up Windows tip

This isn’t definitive or complete or even necessarily long lasting. Just a quick effortless way I’ve found to help out the speed or snappiness of Windows without needing to install anything or local admin access.

The “universal” way will work on Windows: XP, Vista, 7, 8.x and 10.

On your keyboard, you would use the key combination of the Windows key and R to bring up the Run box.

An aid on the Win + R thing.
Probably unnecessary but this is what google image search is for.

Here you would type %temp% and click the OK button.

Run box with %temp% entered in. The “universal” way.

This brings up the Temp folder for your particular Windows profile which will contain somewhere between a little and a very large number of files and folders.

You can select everything in the folder (the key combo Ctrl and A will work or use the mouse) and delete it all.

Note: in those versions of Windows that offer it (all of them after XP) you can click the start button and just start typing (or paste in) %temp% and push enter. It will bring up the folder just as well.

You may (probably) get a message to the effect of the below: it’s pretty much just saying Windows thinks the file is use in some way and therefore can’t be deleted.

You can safely check the box next to “Do this for all current items” and click the Skip button.

The file in use error.

I have seen users mention there is a significant apparent improvement is responsiveness and load times with applications after following these steps.

In some cases this may be better in combination with rebooting Windows. I’ve seen user PCs with Windows that hadn’t been rebooted for 4 months. Of course it’s slow. It needs to install updates and to flush whatever else is stuck in memory.


Below is a completely unnecessary backstory on why I wrote the above tip. I can’t think of any reason anyone would read below but I’m writing it anyway.

This wasn’t at all what the sort of thing I was planning on putting on this blog when I started it. It seems a little far off on the basic end of the spectrum. But since it wouldn’t necessarily occur to anybody and it may be useful I decided it would be worth it.

If anyone cares this %temp% I type in the run box is what’s called an environment variable. In summary, when you login with a name and password to Windows the OS creates a series of conveniences for you like a folder with your login name on it the C:\Users folder along with some folders and configuration files to store things like personal preferences (you background image, the size of your mouse cursor etc) that another user, upon logging in to Windows, would not see. Since these are all going to vary from one login to another Windows provides a way to access them in the form of a variable.

The %variablename% convention is just the way Windows happens use to access those variables.

If you were to open a CMD window and issue the command set it would list all the variables for you. The last one in the list for instance probably looks something like windir=C:\Windows. This is another variable and as you may have guessed typing %windir% in the Run box will open a folder to that location.

I happen to work in hospital where, as you can imagine, many off workers do their jobs with Windows PCs 8 to 12 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week. Largely they only use their few applications, maybe 3 or 4 applications at once.

And it only took ~20 years but applications are finally starting to be designed around the possibility the currently logged in user account does not have local administrator access to the system. Which is good.

Because of this all these application dump any “scratch” or “working” files into one of the few places in the file system with easy read/write access: in the appdata/local/temp folder located in the current user’s profile.

It was only about a week ago I happened to be working near one of these users who use the same applications day-in day-out and she mentioned the PC was quite slow to load and unresponsive.

With my several years of experience backing me up I opened up the run box and entered %temp% then proceeded to delete the contents. In that case it actually took a while first for the slow hard drive to go through and count and the files and just how much space was being taken up then the actual deletion operation. I don’t remember exactly how much space that temp folder had. Probably around 500 Megabytes.

When it was done she started to re-open all her normal applications and remarked that it seemed much more responsive. She even wrote down the steps to try this tip on her PC at home.

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