How to view and remove temporary program files

Temporary folderNote: This document relates to deleting .tmp files, not how to clear your browser Internet history or cache.

Windows 98, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10

If you are running any of these versions of Windows, we suggest running the Windows Disk Cleanup utility to delete temporary files and cleanup other portions of your computer.

  • See the Disk Cleanup definition for additional information and help.

Viewing and deleting temporary files

To view and delete temp files, open the Start menu and type %temp% in the Search field (in Windows XP and prior, click the Run option in the Start menu and type %temp% in the Run field). Press Enter and a Temp folder should open. You can delete all files found in this folder, and if any files are in use, they can be skipped.

After restarting the computer, you should see at least some improvement in the performance of the computer, now that it does not have to load all those temp files.

Searching for .tmp files

If you are running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows ME, Windows 2000, or Windows XP, follow the instructions below to search for and delete any .tmp file found on your computer.

  1. Click the Start button to open the Start menu.
  2. Click on the Find option, then click on Find Files or folders.
  3. In the named box, type *.tmp to search for any files with a "tmp" file extension.
  4. Verify that the Look in section of the search box is pointing to the C: drive and not document folders.
  5. Click the Find Now button to start the search.
  6. Delete all files that are found.

Once the above steps have been completed, it is also recommended that you ensure the temporary folder on the hard drive is empty by following the steps below.

  1. On the Windows Desktop, double-click the My Computer icon.
  2. Double-click on the C: drive.
  3. Double-click on the Temp folder (if present) and verify that all files in this folder are deleted.
  4. Close the window and re-open My Computer.
  5. Double-click on the C: drive.
  6. Double-click on the Windows folder.
  7. Double-click on the Temp folder (if present) and verify that all files in this folder are deleted.

If you are running MS-DOS or Windows 3.x, follow the instructions below to remove any temporary files currently on the computer.

  1. If you are currently in Windows, click File and choose the option to Exit Windows.
  2. Once at the prompt, type the following:
    cd\ <press Enter>
    del *.tmp <press Enter>
  3. Delete all temporary files found in the root directory of the C drive.
  4. Next, type the following:
    cd\ <press Enter>
    cd temp <press Enter>
  5. In the C:\TEMP> directory (if present), type del *.* to delete all files in the temp directory.
  6. Once deleted or if the temp folder is not present, type the following:
    cd\ <press Enter>
    cd Windows <press Enter>
    cd temp <press Enter>
  7. In the C:\Windows\TEMP> directory (if present), type del *.* to delete all files in the directory.

Which temp files are safe to delete?

Because all temporary files are only a location to hold information temporarily, all temporary files are safe to delete. However, keep in mind that if a file or program is using that file, you may not be able to delete the file.

Unable to delete .tmp file

If you get an error when trying to delete a .tmp file, it is currently being used by Windows or another software program that is running. Close all open programs, restart the computer, and try deleting the file again. If you are still having problems, see the document below.

Additional information