Posted On 2005-11-1 by FortyPoundHead
Tags: Windows Commandline Windows
Views: 2998


Delete one or more files.


DEL [options] [/A:file_attributes] files_to_delete


Switch/dataWhat it does
files_to_deleteThis may be a filename, a list of files or a Wildcard options
/PGive a Yes/No Prompt before deleting.
/FIgnore read-only setting and delete anyway (FORCE)
/SDelete from all Subfolders (DELTREE)
/QQuiet mode, do not give a Yes/No Prompt before deleting.
/ASelect files to delete based on file_attributes


SwitchWhat it does
-RNOT Read-only
-SNOT System
-HNOT Hidden
-ANOT Archive


These can be combined with part of a filename

  • * Match any characters
  • ? Match any ONE character


To delete HelloWorld.TXT

DEL HelloWorld.TXT

To delete Hello Big World.TXT

DEL "Hello Big World.TXT"

To delete all files that start with the letter A


To delete all files that end with the letter A

DEL *A.*

To delete all files with a .DOC extension


To delete all read only files

DEL /a:R *

To delete all files including any that are read only

DEL /F *

Files are sometimes created with the reserved names: CON, AUX, COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4, LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, PRN, NUL. To delete these use the syntax:

DEL \\.\C:\somedir\LPT1


If a folder name is given instead of a file, all files in the folder will be deleted, but the folder itself will not be removed.

Temporary Files

You should clear out TEMP files on a regular basis - this is best done at startup when no applications are running. To delete all files in all subfolders of C:\temp\ but leave the folder structure intact:

DEL /F /S /Q \%TEMP\%

When clearing out the TEMP directory it is not generally worthwhile removing the subfolders too - they don't use much space and constantly deleting and recreating them can potentially increase fragmentation within the Master File Table. Deleting a file will not prevent third party utilities from un-deleting it again, however you can turn any file into a zero-byte file to destroy the file allocation chain like this:

TYPE nul > C:\examples\MyFile.txt
DEL C:\examples\MyFile.txt


ERASE is a synonym for DEL.

If Command Extensions are enabled (default) DEL /S [path]filename(s) will display a list of the files deleted. If Command Extensions are disabled: DEL /S [path]filename(s) will display a list of any files it cannot find.


Previous versions of Windows had the DELTREE command that deletes all files and sub folders, DEL /s will delete all files, RD /s will remove all files and folders including the root folder.

The following command script will also provide DELTREE functionality:

@echo off
pushd \%1
del /q *.*
for /f "Tokens=*" \%\%G in ('dir /B') do rd /s /q "\%\%G"

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