Let's say I copy and paste files from folder A, which includes:

Folder A:


into folder B, which after updating, has:

Folder B:

file1.cfg    *
file2.txt    *
file3.esp    *
file4.bsa    *

Is there a way to delete all files from folder A that are in folder B (marked with a *)? Besides manually selecting each one and deleting it, or ctrl-Z'ing right after the copy-paste

I would prefer either a windows method or some software that could do this


  • 4
    How do you know they're the same files content-wise? I can't imagine a scenario where you would want to blindly consider a file to be a duplicate just based on file name alone. – rory.ap Jun 26 '16 at 22:10
  • @roryap I think this question was arised because OP copied the files from folder 1 to folder 2, replaced all and now thinks, hmm, this was a mistake, but realizes that the next day, so undo is not possible. But you're right, contentwize you can't know. – LPChip Jun 27 '16 at 7:36
  • 13
    Just a dumb question... Why not use "cut" and "paste"? – DaMachk Jun 27 '16 at 10:13
  • @DaMachk if you're working with network drives or removable media, copy->verify->clean-up is a reasonable route. If the files are used by some process, it might be a good idea to test it on a copy (I do this with files for python data analysis in case of bugs in my own code clobbering the input file (for example). It may not be as necessary as it used to be, but old habits and all that. Alternatively the OP could have mis-clicked copy instead of cut, – Chris H Jun 28 '16 at 12:27

There's free software out there called WinMerge. You can use this software to match up duplicates. First, use FileOpen, and choose both directories, with the folder with files you want to keep on the left, and those you do not on the right. Then, go to View, and deselect Show Different Items, Show Left Unique Items, and Show Right Unique Items. This will leave just the identical files left in the list. After that, choose EditSelect All, right-click on any file, and click on DeleteRight. This will delete the duplicates from the right-hand folder.

demo of WinMerge

  • The benefit of this method is that it can detect if the files are not content-wise similar, if this is important. WinMerge can compare all factors that matters to one. – user477799 Jun 27 '16 at 19:59

This can be done through the commandline by using the command forfiles

Lets assume you have Folder A located in c:\temp\Folder A, and Folder B located in c:\temp\Folder B

The command would then be:

c:\>forfiles /p "c:\temp\Folder A" /c "cmd /c del c:\temp\Folder B\@file"

After this is done, Folder B will have all files removed that are present in Folder A. Keep in mind, that if folder B has files with the same name, but not the same content, they will still be deleted.

It is possible to extend this to work with folders in subfolders too, but out of fear for this to become unnecessary complicated, I've decided against posting it. It would require the /s and @relpath options (and further testing xD)


You can use this PowerShell script:

$folderA = 'C:\Users\Ben\test\a\' # Folder to remove cross-folder duplicates from
$folderB = 'C:\Users\Ben\test\b\' # Folder to keep the last remaining copies in
Get-ChildItem $folderB | ForEach-Object {
    $pathInA = $folderA + $_.Name
    If (Test-Path $pathInA) {Remove-Item $pathInA}

Hopefully it's fairly self-explanatory. It looks at every item in Folder B, checks whether there's an item with the same name in Folder A, and if so, it removes the Folder A item. Note that the final \ in the folder paths is important.

One-line version:

gci 'C:\Users\Ben\test\b\' | % {del ('C:\Users\Ben\test\a\' + $_.Name) -EA 'SilentlyContinue'}

If you don't care whether you get a deluge of red errors in the console, you can remove the -EA 'SilentlyContinue'.

Save it as a .ps1 file, e.g. dedupe.ps1. Before you can run PowerShell scripts, you'll need to enable their execution:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Scope CurrentUser

Then you'll be able to invoke it with .\dedupe.ps1 when you're in the folder that contains it.



rsync is a program used to synchronize directory. From the many (really many) options you have there are the self explaining --ignore-non-existing, --remove-source-files and --recursive.

You can do

rsync -avr --ignore-non-existing --recursive --remove-source-files   B/ A -v

if we suppose you have the files in the directory A (4) and B (4+2).

A       B
├── a   ├── a
├── b   ├── b
├── c   ├── c
└── d   ├── d
        ├── e
        └── f     # Before

A       B
├── a   ├── e
├── b   └── f
├── c   
└── d             # After

LPChip's answer is the better one.

But because I've started to learn Python, I thought, "Heck, why not write a Python script as answer to this question?"

Install Python and Send2Trash

You'd need to install Python before you can run the script from the command line.

Then install Send2Trash so the deleted files aren't gone irretrievably but end up in the OS's trash:

pip install Send2Trash

Create script

Create a new file with for instance the name DeleteDuplicateInFolderA.py

Copy the following script into the file.


import sys
import os
from send2trash import send2trash

class DeleteDuplicateInFolderA(object):
    """Given two paths A and B, the application determines which files are in
       path A which are also in path B and then deletes the duplicates from
       path A.

       If the "dry run" flag is set to 'true', files are deleted. Otherwise
       they are only displayed but not deleted.

    def __init__(self, path_A, path_B, is_dry_run=True):
        self._path_A = path_A
        self._path_B = path_B
        self._is_dry_run = is_dry_run

    def get_filenames_in_folder(self, folder_path):
        only_files = []
        for (dirpath, dirnames, filenames) in os.walk(folder_path):
        return only_files

    def print_files(sel, heading, files):
        if len(files) == 0:
            print("   none")
            for file in files:
                print("   {}".format(file))

    def delete_duplicates_in_folder_A(self):
        only_files_A = self.get_filenames_in_folder(self._path_A)
        only_files_B = self.get_filenames_in_folder(self._path_B)

        files_of_A_that_are_in_B = [file for file in only_files_A if file in only_files_B]

        self.print_files("Files in {}".format(self._path_A), only_files_A)
        self.print_files("Files in {}".format(self._path_B), only_files_B)

        if self._is_dry_run:
            self.print_files("These files would be deleted: ", [os.path.join(self._path_A, file) for file in files_of_A_that_are_in_B])
            print("Deleting files:")
            for filepath in [os.path.join(self._path_A, file) for file in files_of_A_that_are_in_B]:
                print("   {}".format(filepath))
                # os.remove(filepath)  # Use this line instead of the next if Send2Trash is not installed

if __name__ == "__main__":
    if len(sys.argv) == 4:
        is_dry_run_argument = sys.argv[3]
        if not is_dry_run_argument == "--dryrun":
            println("The 3rd argument must be '--dryrun' or nothing.")
            app = DeleteDuplicateInFolderA(sys.argv[1], sys.argv[2], is_dry_run=True)
        app = DeleteDuplicateInFolderA(sys.argv[1], sys.argv[2], is_dry_run=False)


Dry run mode, which shows you which files would be delete without actually deleting any files:

c:\temp> python .\DeleteDuplicateInFolderA.py c:\temp\test\A c:\temp\test\B --dryrun

File deleting mode, which indeed does delete files, so be careful:

c:\temp> python .\DeleteDuplicateInFolderA.py c:\temp\test\A c:\temp\test\B

Output of dry run mode

Files in C:\temp\A
Files in C:\temp\B
These files would be deleted:

Output of file deleting mode

Files in C:\temp\A
Files in C:\temp\B
Deleting files:

Unit test

If you want to test the application above, create a file named DeleteDuplicateInFolderATest.py and paste these unittests into it:

import unittest
import os
import shutil
from DeleteDuplicateInFolderA import DeleteDuplicateInFolderA

class DeleteDuplicateInFolderATest(unittest.TestCase):

    def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):
        super(DeleteDuplicateInFolderATest, self).__init__(*args, **kwargs)
        self._base_directory = r"c:\temp\test"
        self._path_A = self._base_directory + r"\A"
        self._path_B = self._base_directory + r"\B"

    def create_folder_and_create_some_files(self, path, filename_list):
        if os.path.exists(path):
        for filename in filename_list:
            open(os.path.join(path, filename), "w+").close()

    def setUp(self):
        # Create folders and files for testing
        self.create_folder_and_create_some_files(self._path_A, ["1.txt", "2.txt"])
        self.create_folder_and_create_some_files(self._path_B, ["2.txt", "3.txt"])

    def tearDown(self):
        for path in [self._path_A, self._path_B, self._base_directory]:
            if os.path.exists(path):

    def test_duplicate_file_gets_deleted(self):
        # Arrange
        app = DeleteDuplicateInFolderA(self._path_A, self._path_B, is_dry_run=False)

        # Act

        # Assert
        self.assertFalse(os.path.isfile(self._path_A + r"\2.txt"), "File 2.txt has not been deleted.")

    def test_duplicate_file_gets_not_deleted_in_mode_dryrun(self):
        # Arrange
        app = DeleteDuplicateInFolderA(self._path_A, self._path_B, is_dry_run=True)

        # Act

        # Assert
        self.assertTrue(os.path.isfile(self._path_A + r"\2.txt"), "File 2.txt should not have been deleted in mode '--dryrun'")

def main():

if __name__ == '__main__':
  • Can you tell me why this script is "ugly as hell"? I just read through it and what you are doing is crystal clear. I'm almost tempted to paste it on CodeReview.SE to learn about what isn't preferred about it. – user1717828 Jun 27 '16 at 15:45
  • Adding a md5sum to check if the files contents are the same would be a nice option. Also using the OS trash mechanism instead of removing. – lolesque Jun 27 '16 at 16:01
  • @user1717828: I've restructured the code, deleted that comment and took your suggestion to post the code on CodeReview.SE. – Lernkurve Jun 28 '16 at 21:50
  • @lolesque: Send2Trash part: done. Thank you for the idea! – Lernkurve Jun 30 '16 at 8:58
  • 1
    @barlop, I was replying to the original post, not a comment. – user1717828 Jul 17 '16 at 14:07

Using bash

for f in $(ls /path/to/folderB/); do 
    rm -rf /path/to/folderA/$f

Sure you could be more more safe by checking if the file is there, or checking if the filename is safe. But assuming you just want to get this done, and don't have any ridiculously named files in folderB - this is a quick and dirty way to get it done. (and you can use the bash emulator that comes with git, if you aren't running Win10 + bash)

  • Maybe you need to add a check if you find directories... – Hastur Jul 12 at 13:20

Any NC-style program, like Total Commander, has a directory difference command that selects files in both tabs that are different from the other tab. Call this command, tab to the larger directory (B), invert selection using * and delete. This has the advantage of not deleting files which may have changed (somehow) and are not the same albeit they agree in name. You can use the same directory diff command to locate these after the deletion.

I guess I'm stuck in the nineties... but I haven't really seen anything more elegant since :-) So far this is the only answer that requires as little as some 5 keystrokes and no scripting / command line whatsoever.


Let's say I copy and paste files from folder A into folder B.

Is there a way to delete all files from folder A that are in folder B? Besides manually selecting each one and deleting it, or ctrl-Z'ing right after the copy-paste

Windows Method

If you always need to copy files from one location into another and then afterwards ensure the files which were copied successfully are also deleted from the original source location, then below is a batch script solution that you can use to automate that entire task with just a simple click each run.

  • Be sure to set the SourceDir and the DestDir variables accordingly for your needs.

  • Additionally, in the part of the script below as ("%SourceDir%\*.*") DO you can simply change the *.* value to be more explicit for file names (File A.txt) or file extensions (*.wav) as needed.

SET SourceDir=C:\Users\User\Desktop\Source
SET DestDir=C:\Users\User\Desktop\Dest

FOR %%A IN ("%SourceDir%\*.*") DO XCOPY /F /Y "%%~A" "%DestDir%\" && DEL /Q /F "%%~A"

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