MS-DOS and Windows command line erase command

Updated: 12/30/2021 by Computer Hope
erase command

The erase command is used to remove files from your computer's hard drive and other storage devices.

Availability

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

Erase syntax

Windows command line syntax

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.

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.

Early versions of MS-DOS syntax

DEL [drive:][path]file name [/P]
ERASE [drive:][path]file name [/P]
[drive:][path]file name Specifies the file(s) to delete. Use wildcards to specify multiple files.
/P Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.

Erase examples

erase c:\windows\*.tmp

Delete any files that end with the TMP extension (i.e., temporary file).

Tip

You will not receive a confirmation prompt when running this command. Once executed, all files are deleted unless they have a read-only attribute and the /F switch is not being used.