The ERASE command in Windows Command Prompt (CMD) is used to delete one or more files from a directory. It is typically used to manage the file system by removing unnecessary or redundant files, thereby helping to maintain a clean, organized directory structure. This command is particularly useful in scripting and batch jobs where automated file management is essential.


The basic syntax for the ERASE command is:

ERASE [drive:][path]filename [/P] [/F] [/S] [/Q] [/A[[:]attributes]]
  • [drive:][path]filename specifies the location and name of the file(s) to be deleted.
    • Wildcard characters * and ? can be used to delete multiple files at once.


  • /P : Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.
  • /F : Forces deletion of read-only files.
  • /S : Deletes specified files from all subdirectories.
  • /Q : Quiet mode, does not prompt before deleting.
  • /A : Deletes only files with the specified attributes.
    • Attributes can be prefixed with - or + to specify ‘not’ or ‘set’, respectively, and include:
      • R : Read-only files
      • A : Files ready for archiving
      • S : System files
      • H : Hidden files
      • I : Not content indexed files


  • /P: Ensures the safety of file deletion operations by requiring user confirmation.
  • /F: Useful when batch processing files that might have been inadvertently set to read-only.
  • /S: Essential for recursive deletion tasks where entire directory trees need to be cleared.
  • /Q: Best used in scripts where prompts could disrupt the flow or in scheduled tasks.
  • /A: Allows for targeted deletions based on specific file attributes, enhancing control over file management operations.


  1. Delete a single file:
    ERASE report.txt
  2. Delete all text files in a folder:
    ERASE C:\Documents\*.txt
  3. Delete files in a directory and its subdirectories:
    ERASE /S C:\Data\*.bak
  4. Delete read-only files without prompting:
    ERASE /F /Q C:\Path\readonlyfile.txt

Common Issues

  • Permission Issues: Users may encounter errors if they do not have the necessary permissions to delete specific files. Ensure appropriate permissions are granted or run the command prompt as an administrator.
  • Using Wildcards Carelessly: Utilizing wildcards (* and ?) without due caution can result in unintended file deletions. Always double-check the patterns and perhaps run a list command (DIR) first.


ERASE can be combined with other CMD commands to create powerful scripts. For instance, you can use FOR to loop through files and conditionally delete them:

FOR %G IN (*.log) DO ERASE /Q %G

This script deletes all .log files in the current directory without prompting the user.

  • DEL: Essentially synonymous with ERASE and can be used interchangeably in scripts and command lines.
  • RD / RMDIR: Used to delete entire directories.

For more information, visit the official Windows command-line reference: Microsoft’s Command Line Documentation.

By becoming familiar with these options and examples, users can effectively manage files within their systems using the ERASE command.