NT Syntax


Delete one or more files.

      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 *

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.

:: DELTREE.cmd
:: From tip 617 at Jsiinc.com
@echo off
pushd %1
del /q *.* 
for /f "Tokens=*" %%G in ('dir /B') do rd /s /q "%%G"

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

Related Commands:

Delete NT user profiles
RD - Delete folders or entire folder trees ()
Delete files older than X days
Delrp - Delete a file/directory and NTFS reparse points.(Win 2K ResKit)

How to change the Windows NT recycle bin
The resource kit utility rm will sometimes delete files where DEL fails (Q120716)

Equivalent Linux BASH commands:

rm - Remove files
rmdir - Remove folder(s)

Simon Sheppard