I would like to delete all files and subfolders in a batch file in Windows 7 and keep the top folder. Basically emptying the folder. What's the command line instruction for that?

  • 3
    Not to nitpick, but you're looking for how do do this "from the command prompt" not from "DOS." There hasn't been a DOS subsystem since Win ME.
    – MDMarra
    Aug 9, 2010 at 18:53
  • @MarkM: Well, there is/was ntvdm but as 64-bit systems gain market share it's getting increasingly irrelevant.
    – Joey
    Aug 10, 2010 at 9:06
  • See also stackoverflow.com/questions/1965787/…
    – Vadzim
    Jan 31, 2014 at 19:27

19 Answers 19


You can do this using del and the /S flag (to tell it to remove all files from all subdirectories):

del /S C:\Path\to\directory\*
  • 5
    Explanation: del stands for Delete and S stands for Recursive. Aug 9, 2010 at 16:50
  • 3
    @Tony_Henrich, Learn more about msdos commands here. computerhope.com/msdos.htm
    – Moab
    Aug 9, 2010 at 18:21
  • 6
    and using /Q keeps empty sub folders which is undesirable. Aug 9, 2010 at 20:27
  • 27
    This is the wrong answer and I don't know why it received many up votes. It seems people didn't understand the question fully and don't read comments! I will go through the answers and select the correct one. Dec 4, 2016 at 5:44
  • 7
    But it leaves the Subfolders how do you also tell it to delete the sub folder itself ?
    – eran otzer
    Feb 7, 2018 at 10:19

The best Solution: e.g. i want to delete all files and sub-directories of parent directory lets say "C:\Users\Desktop\New folder\". The easy way is create batch file of below three commands.

cd C:\Users\Desktop\New folder\

del * /S /Q

rmdir /S /Q "C:\Users\Desktop\New folder\"

Here first it will clean all files in all sub-directories and then cleans all empty sub-directories. Since current working directory is parent directory i.e."\New folder", rmdir command can't delete this directory itself.

  • 2
    Works very well, except for a warning when the system cannot delete the root folder.
    – Jerther
    Aug 25, 2016 at 18:44
  • 3
    Not good. Hard coded paths and by looking at it, it doesn't empty the folder. It removes it. Very dangerous also. It deletes files at the current folder if the path doesn't exit or mispelled. Dec 4, 2016 at 5:51
  • 1
    As @Tony_Henrich said the rmdir command will delete New folder
    – Navigatron
    Apr 6, 2017 at 21:18
  • No. This actually works at completely clearing the "New folder" without deleting the folder itself. The only issue is that it gives a minor warning when the OS fails to delete the parent folder. Also, the del command is redundant unless you have a large folder, in which case it might be faster. You could just modify it as such (Sorry about the lack of line breaks in comments): set FOLDER="%userprofile%\Desktop\New folder" cd %FOLDER% rmdir /S /Q %FOLDER%\ >nul 2>&1
    – HSuke
    Nov 16, 2017 at 18:58
  • 9
    Real dangerous. If somebody goes ahead and removes/renames `C:\Users\Desktop\New folder`, the very first line with CD fails and your batch file happily deletes everything in the current (default) directory. Which could very well end up being your working directory or C:\Windows\System32
    – Ishmaeel
    Jan 12, 2018 at 10:18

Navigate to the parent directory:

pushd "Parent Directory"

Delete the sub folders:

rd /s /q . 2>nul
  • 3
    Wow, that's hackish. :) Jul 3, 2014 at 13:08
  • 2
    This is essentially equivalent to two previous answers. Jul 3, 2014 at 13:27
  • 1
    Agreed with above - this is a copy of previous answers, replaced with commands synonymous to those they're replacing. pushd doesn't add anything here that cd isn't already doing. Apr 5, 2018 at 5:56
  • this is the only one i was able to use so far that worked exactly for what the asker was asking, all the other ones just delete all the files. Of course rmdir /s path-to-folder will delete the folder with all the stuff in it, but the asker wanted to know how to delete everything in working directory. Jun 14, 2018 at 9:53
  • This answer worked best for me. With all the other answers it didn't delete non-empty directories when using /Q and it always asked for confirmation when not using /Q.
    – marijnr
    Oct 29, 2018 at 10:31
rmdir "c:\pathofyourdirectory" /q /s

Don't forget to use the quotes and for the /q /s it will delete all the repositories and without prompting.

  • 8
    The question was "I would like to delete all files and subfolders in a batch file in Windows 7 and keep the top folder." Feb 5, 2014 at 17:06
  • This solution works perfectly on windows 10. Thanks.
    – rajakvk
    Aug 31, 2021 at 15:19

You can do it quickly and easily by putting these three instructions in your bat file:

mkdir empty_folder
robocopy /mir empty_folder "path_to_directory"
rmdir empty_folder
  • This is immensely useful since it also removes any hidden or system files. Apr 4, 2017 at 18:16
  • In Windows even the simplest tasks become complicated beyond description. Add a space before the closing quote if you use filenames with spaces in Robocopy Aug 29, 2022 at 16:18

user340956 was painfully close to the solution, but you know what they say about close…

To be clear, rd /s /q c:\foobar deletes the target directory in addition to its contents, but you don't always want to delete the directory itself, sometimes you just want to delete its contents and leave the directory alone. The deltree command could do this, but Micrsoft, in its infinite "wisdom" removed the command and didn't port it to Windows.

Here's a solution that works without resorting to third-party tools. It's probably about as simple and efficient as is possible with a command-line script instead of outright writing an actual executable. It doesn't set any environment variables and it doesn't use any loops. It's also as safe as can be, with error-checking everywhere possible, and also as user-friendly as possible, with built-in docs.

dt.bat (or dt.cmd for the kids; whatever, I'm old, I use .bat 🤷):

:: dt is a Windows-compatible version of the deltree command
:: Posted to SuperUser by Synetech: https://superuser.com/a/1526232/3279

@echo off
goto start

    if ["%~1"]==[""] goto usage
    pushd "%~1" 2>nul
    if /i not ["%cd%"]==["%~1"] goto wrongdir
    rd /s /q "%~1" 2>nul
goto :eof

    echo   Delete all of the contents of a directory
    echo   ^> %0 DIR
    echo   %0 is a substitute for deltree, it recursively deletes the contents
    echo   (files and folders) of a directory, but not the directory itself
    echo   DIR is the directory whose contents are to be deleted
goto :eof

    echo Could not change to the target directory. Invalid directory? Access denied?
goto :eof

Here's how it works:

  1. It checks if a command-line argument has been passed, and prints usage information and quits if not.
  2. It uses pushd to save the current directory, then switch to the target directory, redirecting any errors to nul for a cleaner command-line experience (and cleaner logs).
  3. It checks to see if the current directory is now the same as the target directory, and prints an error message and quits if it is not. This avoids accidentally deleting the contents of the previous directory if the pushd command failed (e.g., passing an invalid directory, access-error, etc.)
    • This check is case-insensitive, so it's usually safe on Windows, but isn't for any case-sensitive file-systems like those used by *nix systems, even under Windows.
    • It doesn't work with short-filenames (e.g. C:\Users\Bob Bobson\foobar won't be seen as being the same as C:\Users\BobBob~1\foobar even if they actually are). It's a slight inconvenience to have to use the non-short filename, but it's better safe than sorry, especially since SFNs aren't completely reliable or always predictable (and may even be disabled altogether).
  4. It then uses rd to delete the target directory and all of its contents, redirecting any errors (which there should be at least one for the directory itself) to nul. Some notes about this:
    • Because the target directory is the current directory, the system has an open file-handle to it, and thus it cannot actually delete it, so it remains as is, which is the desired behavior.
    • Because it doesn't try to remove the target directory until after its contents have been removed, it should now be empty (other than anything that also has open file handles).
  5. Finally, it uses popd to return to the previously-current directory and ends the script.

(If you like, you can comment the script with the above descriptions using rem or ::.)

  • Thank you for this. I created the batch file but it doesn't delete certain folders such as the Documents folder that I backed up from C:\users\joe in a Windows OS. I made that backup using robocopy using the /copyall parameter so I guess it copied security and ownership info. Maybe that stops your batch script from deleting that folder? May 11, 2021 at 17:15
  • Yup, that would be my guess. You can try opening an elevated command-prompt and running the batch-file from that.
    – Synetech
    May 12, 2021 at 18:13

you can use rmdir to delete the files and subfolder, like this:

rmdir /s/q MyFolderPath

However, it is significantly faster, especially when you have a lot of subfolders in your structure to use del before the rmdir, like this:

del /f/s/q MyFolderPath > nul
rmdir /s/q MyFolderPath
  • 1
    First option gives an error "the directory is not empty". The first command in the second option, deletes the whole folder. It doesn't keep it like I wanted. The second command is not needed if the first command deleted the whole folder. Dec 4, 2016 at 6:02
  • 1
    The rmdir command (both are the same) will delete the parent folder. This is not an answer to the question. Why don't people read? Oct 2, 2019 at 23:00

If you want to delete all files in a folder, including all subfolders and not rely on some error conditions to keep the root folder intact (like I saw in another answer) you could have a batch file like this:

@echo off

REM Checking for command line parameter
if "%~1"=="" (

    echo Parameter required.
    exit /b 1

) else (

    REM Change directory and keep track of the previous one
    pushd "%~1"

    if errorlevel 1 (

        REM The directory passed from command line is not valid, stop here.
        exit /b %errorlevel%

    ) else (

        REM First we delete all files, including the ones in the subdirs, without confirmation
        del * /S /Q

        REM Then we delete all the empty subdirs that were left behind
        for /f %%D IN ('dir /b /s /a:d "%~1"') DO rmdir /S /Q "%%D"

        REM Change directory back to the previous one

        REM All good.
        exit /b 0


And then you would simply call it with:

empty_my_folder.bat "C:\whatever\is\my folder"
  • This left subdirectories in my testing
    – jaycer
    Mar 11, 2021 at 19:44

To delete file:


To delete folder with all files in it:

rmdir /s /q PATH_TO_FOLDER

To delete all files from specific folder (not deleting folder itself) is a little bit complicated. del /s *.* cannot delete folders, but removes files from all subfolder. So two commands are needed:

del /q PATH_TO_FOLDER\*.*
for /d %i in (PATH_TO_FOLDER\*.*) do @rmdir /s /q "%i"

You can create a script to delete whatever you want (folder or file) like this mydel.bat:

@echo off
setlocal enableextensions

if "%~1"=="" (
    echo Usage: %0 path
    exit /b 1

:: check whether it is folder or file
set ISDIR=0
set ATTR=%~a1
set DIRATTR=%ATTR:~0,1%
if /i "%DIRATTR%"=="d" set ISDIR=1

:: Delete folder or file
if %ISDIR%==1 (rmdir /s /q "%~1") else (del "%~1")
exit /b %ERRORLEVEL%

Few example of usage:

mydel.bat "path\to\folder with spaces"
mydel.bat path\to\file_or_folder

To delete all subdirectories and their contents use robocopy. Create an empty directory, for example C:\Empty. Let's say you want to empty C:\test which has lots of subdirectories and files and more subdirectories and more files: robocopy c:\empty c:\test /purge then, rd C:\test if need be.


This worked better for me when I had spaces in the folder names.

@echo off
REM ---- Batch file to clean out a folder
REM Checking for command line parameter
if "%~1"=="" (

echo Parameter required.
exit /b 1

) else (
echo ***********************************************************************************
    echo *** Deleting all files, including the ones in the subdirs, without confirmation *** 
    del "%~1\*" /S /Q
echo ***********************************************************************************
    REM Deleting all the empty subdirs that were left behind
FOR /R "%~1" %%D IN (.) DO (
    if "%%D"=="%~1\."  (
    echo *** Cleaning out folder: %~1 *** 
    ) else (
    echo Removed folder "%%D"
    rmdir /S /Q "%%D"

    REM All good.
    exit /b 0

  • People always forget about having spaces in the names. Feb 13, 2014 at 18:48

If you wanted to empty the folder, my take is:


set /P c=Which directory? [Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Pictures]
if /I "%c%" EQU "Desktop" set Point = "Desktop"
if /I "%c%" EQU "Documents" set Point = "Documents"
if /I "%c%" EQU "Downloads" set Point = "Downloads"
if /I "%c%" EQU "Pictures" set Point = "Pictures"
if /I "%c%" EQU "Videos" set Point = "Videos"
goto choice
set /P d=Which subdirectory? If you are putting multiple. Your's should be like "path/to/folder" (no files!!)

rmdir C:\Users\%USERNAME%\%Point%\%d%
mkdir C:\Users\%USERNAME%\%Point%\%d%
mkdir C:\Users\%USERNAME%\%Point%\%d%

Simple as that! I hope I helped you out! I recommend you to take the whole code, if you don't want to take the whole code, then you can simplify this with.

rmdir *path here*
mkdir *path here*
mkdir *path here*

EDIT: rmdir won't work if it isn't empty. To fix that.

del *path here*/* /S /Q (dont copy this, the above prevents the del command from deleting everything in the folder, this is simallar to another answer.)
rmdir *path here*
mkdir *path here*
mkdir *path here*

Not sure if this works but...

sdelete -s -p *path here*/*


1. What the OP asked for

del /f /s /q "C:\some\Path\*.*"
rmdir /s /q "C:\some\Path"
mkdir "C:\some\Path"

That will remove all files and folders in and including the directory of "C:\some\Path" but remakes the top directory at the end.

2. What most people will want

del /f /s /q "C:\some\Path\*.*"
rmdir /s /q "C:\some\Path"

That will completely remove "C:\some\Path" and all of its contents

If OP has some oddly specific requirement to not touch the top-level directory in any capacity... they should mention that in their question :)

  • It is less "oddly specific" than you think, I just came to that question with this exact requirement (the top folder cannot be removed because the script does not have the permission to do it).
    – Étienne
    Aug 30, 2021 at 15:27

None of the answers already posted here is very good, so I will add my own answer.

Try this:

for /f "delims=" %i in ('dir path\to\folder /s /b /a:-d') do del "%i" /f /q /s
fot /f "delims=" %i in ('dir path\to\folder /s /b /a:d') do rd "%i" /q /s

This should do it.

  • You don't actually need to do dir /s, because rd /s will delete the subfolders. And you don't need to do dir /s for the files, because you only need to delete files in the root folder. This assumes, of course, that there are no errors when attempting to remove folders.
    – Dan
    May 9, 2022 at 18:25

Seems everyone is missing the fact that we're wanting to delete multiple sub folders, but NOT delete the parent folder. We may also no know all the names of the subfolders, and don't want to do each one individually.

So, thinking outside the box, this is how I solved this issue.

mkdir c:\EmptyFolderToBeDeletedSoon

Robocopy /Purge c:\EmptyFolderToBeDeletedSoon c:\FolderIWantEmpty

rmdir c:\EmptyFolderToBeDeletedSoon

Make a temp directory that's empty. Use the RoboCopy command with the /Purge switch (/PURGE :: delete dest files/dirs that no longer exist in source.) using the empty folder as the source, and the folder we want empty as the destination. Delete the empty temp folder we created to be the empty source for Robocopy.

Now, you have an empty folder of all files and folders, which is what this whole string was about.


This is what worked for me.

  1. Navigate inside the folder where you want to delete the files.
  2. Type: del *
  3. Y for yes.
  4. Done

Example: Delete everything (folders/subfolders/files) in 3D Objects folder but want to leave 3D Objects folder alone

pathThere="C:\Users\PhilosophyPoet\3D Objects" CD pathThere RMDIR /s /q pathThere

When CMD is oriented to working directory, using RMDIR will delete all folders, subfolders and files from the working directory. Seems like CMD process cannot process itself just like 'I can't throw myself into rubbish bin because the rubbish bin need to be seal by someone'


Here's a two-line solution I just came up with, possibly exploiting a bug or unexpected behavior in robocopy. This works with the newest version of cmd and robocopy on Windows 10 at this writing.

It mirror syncs an empty sub-folder to its parent folder. In other words, it tells the parent folder to have all the same files as the sub-folder: none. Amusingly, this means it also deletes the empty sub-folder that it is instructed to sync with.

This example will empty the Temp folder for the current user. Note that it is using the %TEMP% environment variable, which cmd expands to whatever that may be, for example C:\Users\Dobby_the_Free\AppData\Local\Temp:

mkdir %TEMP%\i_like_cheez
robocopy /mir %TEMP%\i_like_cheez %TEMP%

this script works with folders with a space in the name

for /f "tokens=*" %%i in ('dir /b /s /a:d "%~1"') do rd /S /Q "%%~i"

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