Delete one or more files.

Syntax DEL [options] [/A:file_attributes] files_to_delete

Key files_to_delete : This may be a filename, a list of files or a Wildcard

options /P Give a Yes/No Prompt before deleting. /F Ignore read-only setting and delete anyway (FORCE) /S Delete from all Subfolders (DELTREE) /Q Quiet mode, do not give a Yes/No Prompt before deleting. /A Select files to delete based on file_attributes

file_attributes: R Read-only -R NOT Read-only S System -S NOT System H Hidden -H NOT Hidden A Archive -A NOT Archive

Wildcards: 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 *


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:


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

Undeletable Files

Files are sometimes created with the very long filenames or reserved names: CON, AUX, COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4, LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, PRN, NUL

To delete these use the syntax: DEL \\.\C:\somedir\LPT1

Alternatively SUBST a drive letter to the folder containing the file.

If a file (or folder) still appears to be 'undeletable' this is often caused by the indexing service.

Right click the file you need to delete, choose properties, advanced and untick "allow indexing" you will then be able to delete the file.

To cure the problem permanently - Control Panel, Add/Remove programs, Win Accessories, indexing service.

Delete Locked files (Typically IE temp files or the Offline cache)

This works on any version of NT, 2000 or XP

Close all applications

Open a command prompt

Click Start, and then Shut Down

Simultaneously press CTRL+SHIFT+ALT.

While you keep these keys pressed, click Cancel in the Shut Down Windows dialog box.

In the command prompt window, navigate to the cache location, and delete all files from the folder (DEL /s)

At the command prompt, type explorer, and then press ENTER.


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.

:: Remove all files and subfolders but NOT the root folder :: From tip 617 at @echo off pushd %1 del /q *.* for /f "Tokens=*" %%G in ('dir /B') do rd /s /q "%%G" popd

Normally DEL will display a list of the files deleted, if Command Extensions are disabled; it will instead display a list of any files it cannot find.

ERASE is a synonym for DEL

"It devoured my paper, it was a really good paper" - Ellen Feiss


DELPROF Delete NT user profiles

Delrp - Delete a file/directory and NTFS reparse points.(Win 2K ResKit)

RD - Delete folders or entire folder trees ()

CleanMgr - Automated cleanup of Temp files, Internet files, downloaded files, recycle bin

FORFILES - Delete files older than X days

INUSE - updated file replacement utility (may not preserve file permissions)

Q120716 - Delete in-use files with rm

Q315226 - Remove Files with Reserved Names

Q320081 - Cannot delete a file or folder

Q159199 - A file cannot be deleted (NTFS)

PowerShell: Remove-Item - Delete the specified items.

Equivalent bash command (Linux): rmdir / rm - Remove folders/ files