How to Open Classic Disk Cleanup in Windows 11

You can open the classic Disk Cleanup tool in Windows 11 if you prefer the cleanmgr.exe tool over Settings. In Windows 11, Microsoft introduced an improved version of the Storage Sense tool that takes care of your drive and ensures it never runs out of free space.

The operating system now can provide you with recommended information on what to clean and how much space you can reclaim. We have a dedicated guide that describes how to use cleanup recommendations in Windows 11.

Unfortunately, as with many "modern takes" on classic Windows utilities, not everyone likes how Microsoft migrates tools from Control Panel to Windows Settings. Users had been able to clean drives in Windows 11 using the classic disk cleanup utility before Microsoft released Windows 11 build 22449 (currently available in the Dev Channel).

Now, Windows redirects users to the Settings app when attempting to open the old cleaning tool. Despite Microsoft's desperate attempts to move users to the Windows Settings app, you can still open the classic Disk Cleanup tool in Windows 11.

Here is how.

Open Disk Cleanup in Windows 11

There are a number of methods you access the classic cleanmgr.exe tool. In the stable Windows 11, build 22000.x, it remains available from the drive properties. Newer builds require some more efforts from you. Here you go.

Using drive properties

  1. Open the File Explorer using the Win + E hotkey or from the Start menu.
  2. Navigate to the This PC folder.
  3. Right-click a drive and select Properties. Alternatively, select a drive and press Alt + Enter.
  4. Finally, in a new window, click Disk Cleanup.

Done. Now you can free some space by deleting old Windows installations, temporary internet files, Recycle Bin, thumbnails, etc.

On Windows 11 22449, though, that method does not work. First, Microsoft replaced the "Disk Cleanup" button with the "Storage Usage" button. It, in turn, redirects users to the Windows Settings app. That does not mean you cannot use the Disk Cleanup tool. Here is how to bypass Microsoft's limitations.

Open Disk Cleanup in Windows 11 with a command

  1. Press Win + R and enter the following command: cleanmgr.exe.
  2. Press Enter, then proceed with cleaning up space on the system drive.
  3. Another way to open the Disk Cleanup tool in Windows 11 is to open the Start menu and begin typing Disk Cleanup.
  4. Finally, you can open Windows Terminal and type cleanmgr in the Command Prompt or PowerShell profile.

You are done.

Although we generally like the idea of modernizing legacy Windows components and tools, the problem is that Microsoft releases them often half-baked or less convenient. The classic Disk Cleanup utility is simple and presents all available categories right away. Unlike that, the "Cleanup recommendations" tool requires more clicks to get to the list of all options. A newcomer to Windows 11 might simply get lost in an attempt to free disk space.

The classic tool also supports a wide range of extremely useful command line options and presets which the newer one lacks. Using them, one could launch it with all options checked.

Whatever your preferences are, now you know how to open Disk Cleanup in Windows 11. While the classic utility is powerful and flexible, it require the user to have some advanced skills. The Storage Sense tool in Windows Settings  supplies its advanced features with a more simple UI. It also comes with extra options as cleaning automation and scheduling.

We recommend learning how to use both utilities to keep the system drive junk-free while Microsoft tries to figure out how to move tools from Control Panel to Windows Settings without turning the outcome into a complete mess.

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