Paper shredders are valuable office accessories that help safely discard sensitive and confidential documents, thereby guarding against identity theft. Despite the name, most of these machines can shred more than just paper; they can handle credit cards, CDs and floppy disks as well. Paper shredders are easy to operate and maintain, and fit into confined office spaces. Some may also offer a "reverse" function, which can aid in clearing jams.

What it Does

Enabling the reverse function on a paper shredder causes the machine to back the paper out of the shredder's cutting area, or cutter. Shredding typically occurs as you insert sheets of paper into the cutter, where paper is shredded and the remnants are disposed into a bin. Enabling the reverse function will initiate the opposite to occur, feeding the paper back up into the throat – the area where the paper is placed before shredding.

When to Use It

If your paper shredder is experiencing difficulties, enabling the reverse function is the first troubleshooting measure you should enact. That's because a paper shredder malfunctions most often from paper jams – either from too many sheets being fed through the cutter at once or from excess paper that won't shred all the way. Initiating the reverse function can often clear any type of paper jam in the cutter, thereby allowing you to continue discarding your documents.

Auto Reverse Function

More advanced paper shredders may feature an auto reverse function. The auto reverse function kicks in any time the paper shredder jams to reverse the cutter and free it up of any jams. Additionally, the auto reverse function will resume normal shredding operations when the cutter frees up. Businesses that shred large amounts of confidential documents should look into purchasing shredders with the auto reverse function, as it better streamlines the shredding operation.


The reverse function helps save time and effort in manually cleaning out the cutter when there's a paper jam. It especially comes in handy when businesses are cleaning out filing cabinets and there's a large amount of paperwork to discard of at once. The more paperwork you need to dispose of, the more likely your shredder is to jam. Rather than cleaning the cutter manually, the reverse function acts as a quick fix in such situations.