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Delete directory/folder from command line

We can delete a directory or folder from command line using rmdir command. See syntax below

rmdir directoryname

Examples:

C:\>rmdir emptydir
C:\>
C:\>rmdir nonemptydir
The directory is not empty.
C:\>rmdir /S nonemptydir
nonemptydir, Are you sure (Y/N)? y
C:\>

As you can see in the above examples, we need to use /S to delete a non empty directory.

To delete directory in quiet mode, without being asked for confirmation, we can use /Q switch.

rmdir /Q /S nonemptydir

We can also use ‘rd’ in place of ‘rmdir‘. Both names refer to the same command. This command works on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista and Windows 7.

Deleting directory with white spaces in the name

You can specify the directory name in quotes. See the example below.

rmdir /Q /S "folder with spaces in the name"

Errors

To delete a directory, you should have appropriate access permissions on the directory. Otherwise you would get ‘Access denied’ error.

Delete everything from directory keeping the directory

The usecase here is to delete all the contents of the directory but keep the parent directory so that we do not need to create it again. rmdir /Q /S does not work here as it deletes the parent directory too. Rather the below commands should do the work.

forfiles /P directory_path /M * /C "cmd /c if @isdir==FALSE del @file"
forfiles /P directory_path /M * /C "cmd /c if @isdir==TRUE rmdir /S /Q @file"

This works in 2 steps – deleting the files with one command and deleting the sub-directories with the other command.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Brian November 26, 2010, 2:05 pm

    Thanks dude..I was looking for command line way of deleting nonempty folders.. cheers!!!

  • Anonymous February 15, 2011, 5:30 am

    Good old DOS….something tells me one day the world will be saved by a DOS operation. ; )

  • Anonymous July 23, 2011, 8:40 am

    cannot delete… access is denied. am trying to delete a directory on a flash drive. cannot access permissions because explorer isn't working. using win7

  • Diman December 15, 2011, 4:09 am

    Note:
    Don’t forget to leave a “space” in the command line..
    rmdir /Q /S_“folder with spaces in the name” I meant “space”, ait’t “underscore”. And upper case of “S”. Good luck!

  • chetan January 9, 2012, 1:04 am

    Hi
    can you show me an example of command to delete this path in bat file.
    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Communicator

    am not able to do this . some error s

    • admin February 2, 2012, 4:19 pm

      Is this in Windows 7/Vista?.
      If so then you need to take ownership of the files. You can do that with below command from elevated administrator command prompt.
      takeown /F "c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Communicator" /R /A

      then run the below command to delete this folder.

      rmdir /S "c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Communicator"

  • Ashwani February 2, 2012, 6:40 am

    cd program files\microsoft office communicator
    then enter press
    rd /s “filename”
    Then enter

  • Raj February 2, 2013, 4:51 am

    I am getting the following error “The process cannot access the file because it is being us
    ed by another process.” what should be the case now?

    • teenager November 10, 2015, 8:58 pm

      You should not have the Dir you want to delete open… Close it and then try the command again

  • Tito April 15, 2013, 3:07 pm

    Could you kindly post the command for deleting my folder which is at Drive G. Name of the folder is Recycler. Thanks

  • Andrew June 19, 2013, 3:31 pm

    Thank you so much. I was trying to delete an entire directory of files, about 200k folders and files, and it kept throwing a warning “this folder is shared with other people”. No such warning with this command!

  • Chauhan Nitin June 23, 2013, 5:55 pm

    i followed your instructions but i’m getting error to delete a folder in cmd. ERROR = The system cannot find the the specified…

    http://postimg.org/image/88qxlnlrt/

    • teenager November 10, 2015, 9:06 pm

      You should make “C:” your default Directory, tot do this type “cd.. && cd..” The type the command again but leave the “C:\” and just type the rest of the code.
      It should look like this: C:>rmdir /Q /S Users\Owner\Songs\New

  • Fahd June 3, 2014, 2:06 pm

    i have installed new win 8 n a back up of old win 8 is in c drive with a name windows old n its not being deleted by ANY means . i have tried this one as well but it says on all files access is denied

  • Bose June 18, 2014, 6:14 am

    I tried the process many times but it says “access is denied”….
    My entire path is “C:\program files\alwil software\avast5” . How should i delete this avast5 folder with all the folders inside it????????????

    • nick July 18, 2014, 4:31 am

      run cmd.exe as administrator
      make sure avast service is not running

  • wrf November 7, 2014, 9:08 pm

    Every time I try it says the file cant be found

  • somu December 12, 2014, 12:43 pm

    you’re really awesome. Googled a 1000 times just for this line

    “C:\>rmdir /S nonemptydir
    nonemptydir, Are you sure (Y/N)? y”

    Thank you so much for your help. This changed my life.

  • Dametew Buta March 31, 2015, 4:16 am

    Thank you so much for your help. This changed my life.
    please attache more basic command for beginner person for my email
    tnx

  • MAJ March 31, 2015, 9:28 am

    I need to do that, help me out

    D:\abc\ has files and folders in it

    but by using rd or rmdir

    rmdir d:\abc\ /s /q will delete abc folder also but i don’t want this.

    • Viper February 1, 2016, 8:02 pm

      Try this:

      rmdir /Q /S D:\abc\*

      the asterisk stands for ‘anything’ in or below the named directory.

  • Rahul June 17, 2015, 3:34 am

    I want to delete subfolders of a folder older than 10 days.I am able to delete files but not folder

  • rajesh July 6, 2015, 11:43 am

    I wanted to know the bat file programm for deleting the contents (sub folders) of a folder on certain conditions. can anyone help.?

  • Arjun August 7, 2015, 5:31 am

    How to delete folders created programatically with timestamp attached at the end.

    Like we do for files :
    DEL comp*

    Is there any command for folders:
    RM com*
    or
    RMDIR com*

  • MingYao November 22, 2015, 6:28 pm

    I’m wanting to delete the directory c:\windows.old I followed the instructions above I run CMD as admin, I typed in: takeown /F c:\windows.old /R /A And hit enter key. It did this part properly but Then I typed in: rmdir /Q /S c:\windows.old And after every entry it said Access denied. what is the command line/s i need to type to atlas delete the directory c:\windows.old ? (using windows 10)

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