Microsoft DOS del command

Updated: 11/10/2017 by Computer Hope

About del

Del is a command used to delete files from the computer.


The del command is an internal command and is available in the below Microsoft operating systems.

All versions of MS-DOS
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows ME
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows 8
Windows 10

The delete command is a recovery console command and is available in the below Microsoft operating systems.

Windows 2000
Windows XP

Del syntax

Windows 2000, Windows XP, and later syntax

Deletes one or more files.

DEL [/P] [/F] [/S] [/Q] [/A[[:]attributes]] names
ERASE [/P] [/F] [/S] [/Q] [/A[[:]attributes]] names

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.
/P Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.
/F Force deleting of read-only files.
/S Delete specified files from all subdirectories.
/Q Quiet mode, do not ask if ok to delete on global wildcard
/A Selects files to delete based on attributes
attributes R Read-only files S System files H Hidden files A Files ready for archiving - Prefix meaning not

If Command Extensions are enabled, DEL and ERASE change as follows:

  • The display semantics of the /S switch are reversed in that it shows you only the files that are deleted, not the ones it could not find.

Windows 2000 and Windows XP recovery console syntax

Deletes one file.

DEL [drive:][path]file name
DELETE [drive:][path]file name

[drive:][path]file name Specifies the file to delete.

Delete only operates within the system directories of the current Windows installation, removable media, the root directory of any hard disk partition, or the local installation sources.

Del and delete do not support replaceable parameters (wild cards).

Windows 95, 98, and ME syntax

Deletes one or more files.

DEL [drive:][path]file name [/P]
ERASE [drive:][path]file name [/P]

[drive:][path]file name Specifies the file(s) to delete. Specify multiple files by using wildcards.
/P Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.

Del examples

Note: In Microsoft Windows, deleted items go to the Recycle Bin. Keep in mind that deleting files from MS-DOS or the Windows command line does not send files to the Recycle Bin.

Tip: Use the rmdir or deltree command to delete directories

del test.tmp

Deletes the test.tmp in the current directory, if the file exists.

del c:\windows\test.tmp

Delete the c:\windows\test.tmp in the Windows directory if it exists.

del c:\windows\temp\*.*

The * (asterisks) is a wild character. *.* indicates that you would like to delete all files in the c:\windows\temp directory.

del c:\windows\temp\?est.tmp

The ? (question mark) is a single wild character for one letter. The use of this command in the above example would delete any file ending with "est.tmp", such as pest.tmp or test.tmp.

Additional information

  • See our delete definition for further information and related links on this term.