Applies To: Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8

Deletes one or more files. This command is the same as the erase command.

For examples of how to use this command, see Examples.


del [/p] [/f] [/s] [/q] [/a[:]<Attributes>] <Names>
erase [/p] [/f] [/s] [/q] [/a[:]<Attributes>] <Names>





Specifies a list of one or more files or directories. Wildcards may be used to delete multiple files. If a directory is specified, all files within the directory will be deleted.


Prompts for confirmation before deleting the specified file.


Forces deletion of read-only files.


Deletes specified files from the current directory and all subdirectories. Displays the names of the files as they are being deleted.


Specifies quiet mode. You are not prompted for delete confirmation.


Deletes files based on the following file attributes:

r Read-only files

h Hidden files

i Not content indexed files

s System files

a Files ready for archiving

   l Reparse points

- Prefix meaning 'not'


Displays help at the command prompt.



If you use del to delete a file from your disk, you cannot retrieve it.

  • If you use /p, del displays the name of a file and sends the following message:

    FileName, Delete (Y/N)?

    To confirm the deletion, press Y. To cancel the deletion and display the next file name (that is, if you specified a group of files), press N. To stop the del command, press CTRL+C.

  • If you disable command extensions, /s displays the names of any files that were not found instead of displaying the names of files that are being deleted (that is, the behavior is reversed).

  • If you specify a folder in Names, all of the files in the folder are deleted. For example, the following command deletes all of the files in the \Work folder:

    del \work
  • You can use wildcards (* and ?) to delete more than one file at a time. However, to avoid deleting files unintentionally, you should use wildcards cautiously with the del command. For example, if you type the following command:

    del *.*

    The del command displays the following prompt:

    Are you sure (Y/N)?

    To delete all of the files in the current directory, press Y and then press ENTER. To cancel the deletion, press N and then press ENTER.


Before you use wildcard characters with the del command, use the same wildcard characters with the dir command to list all the files that will be deleted.

  • The del command, with different parameters, is available from the Recovery Console.


To delete all the files in a folder named Test on drive C, type either of the following:

del c:\test
del c:\test\*.*

To delete all files with the .bat file name extension from the current directory, type:

del *.bak

To delete all read-only files in the current directory, type:

del /a:r *.*

Additional references

Command-Line Syntax Key