The DEL command, or DELETE, is a command-line utility in Windows CMD used for deleting one or more files from a directory. It provides a quick way to remove unnecessary files, helping to manage space and organization efficiently. This command is particularly useful in scripting and automation to maintain file system hygiene or prepare environments.


The general syntax for the DEL command is:

DEL [options] [drive:][path]filename
  • [drive:][path]filename specifies the location and name of the file(s) to be deleted.
  • [options] represents command-line switches that alter the behavior of the command.


Here are the options available with the DEL command:

  • /P – Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.
  • /F – Forces deletion of read-only files.
  • /S – Deletes specified files from the current directory and all subdirectories. Displays the names of the files as they are being deleted.
  • /Q – Quiet mode, does not prompt for confirmation when deleting files with the /S flag.
  • /A – Selects files to delete based on attributes.
    • /A:H – Hidden files
    • /A:S – System files
    • /A:R – Read-only files
    • /A:A – Files ready for archiving

Examples of commonly paired flags include /F /S /Q for a forceful, recursive, and quiet deletion.


  1. Basic Deletion

    DEL myfile.txt

    Deletes myfile.txt in the current directory without confirmation, assuming it’s not read-only.

  2. Force Deletion of Read-only File

    DEL /F readme.txt

    Deletes a read-only file named readme.txt without prompting for confirmation.

  3. Recursive Deletion

    DEL /S /Q *.bak

    Deletes all .bak backup files in the current directory and its subdirectories without prompting.

  4. Delete Using Attributes

    DEL /A:H *.tmp

    Deletes all hidden .tmp files in the current directory.

Common Issues

  • Permission Errors: Users might encounter permission issues when trying to delete files. Running CMD as Administrator may resolve these issues.
  • File Not Found: If the path is wrong or the file does not exist, the command fails. Ensure correct paths and filenames are used.
  • Using Wildcards: Incorrect use of wildcards can lead to deleting unintended files. Always review files matched by wildcards before deletion.


DEL can be combined with other commands for powerful scripting solutions. Example:

FOR /D %%p IN (C:\Logs\*) DO DEL /S /Q %%p\*.log

This script loops through directories under C:\Logs and deletes all log files within each subdirectory.

  • RMDIR (RD) – Removes directories.
  • ATTRIB – Changes or views file attributes, useful in conjunction with /A in DEL.
  • MOVE – Moves files from one location to another, can be used before deletion for sorting.

Further reading and official documentation can be found on Microsoft’s command-line reference.