MS-DOS and Windows command line del command

Updated: 06/22/2018 by Computer Hope
del command

The del command is used delete files from a computer.


Del is an internal command and is available in the following Microsoft operating systems.

The delete command is a Recovery Console command and is available in the below Microsoft operating systems.

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 in the directory are 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 (e.g., -h for not hidden).

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 in 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 (wildcards).

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 using wildcards.
/P Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.

Del examples


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 them to the Recycle Bin.


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 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.