I want to remove all files from a folder structure, so I'm left with an empty folder structure.

Can this be achieved in either batch or VBScript scripting?

I have tried a very basic batch command, but this required the user to allow the deletion of each file. This wasn't a suitable solution as there are many hundreds of files and this will increase massively over time.

What can you suggest?

  • You mean a recurssive delete? This can indeed be done. Something like rd /s /q "c:\folder a will perform a recursive delete on all files and folders within Folder A
    – Ramhound
    Apr 15, 2014 at 12:47
  • I could do, I dont know how to script in powershell but have previous run powershell scripts.
    – RobN
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:41
  • 2
    Now is a perfect time to learn, I would research batch and vbs syntax for legacy purposes, but invest more time in learning PS.
    – MDMoore313
    Apr 15, 2014 at 14:26
  • I havent had the chance to check the code yet although I'm sure it will work. I will come back and select the most appropiate answer to my initial query.
    – RobN
    Apr 17, 2014 at 7:08
  • I'll second @BigHomie's recommendation - I just learned some PowerShell and I'd have to say it's pretty neat - not too hard, a good weapon in any coder's arsenal. I use it fairly frequently now.
    – Ben
    Dec 19, 2014 at 17:13

16 Answers 16


This can be accomplished using PowerShell:

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Temp -Include *.* -File -Recurse | foreach { $_.Delete()}

This command gets each child item in $path, executes the delete method on each one, and is quite fast. The folder structure is left intact.

If you may have files without an extension, use

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Temp -Include * -File -Recurse | foreach { $_.Delete()}


It appears the -File parameter may have been added after PowerShell v2. If that's the case, then

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Temp -Include *.* -Recurse | foreach { $_.Delete()}

It should do the trick for files that have an extension.

If it does not work, check if you have an up-to-date version of Powershell

  • 1
    It's -Include *.* not -Include ., big difference! :-)
    – MDMoore313
    Apr 25, 2014 at 11:00
  • Get-ChildItem -Path D:\EmptyThisFolder -Include . -File -Recurse | foreach { $_.Delete()}
    – RobN
    Apr 25, 2014 at 13:07
  • Why are you using -Include . ?? That's what the problem is.
    – MDMoore313
    Apr 25, 2014 at 13:08
  • 2
    Can't they implement powershell --version? Can't they use a version number with positive digits? It's just crazy. More than 1300 upvotes for a question on how to find out a version number of a program? Oct 6, 2016 at 18:53
  • 1
    @demonicdaron its not supposed to; The OP's question was for preserving the folder structure.
    – MDMoore313
    Nov 29, 2018 at 4:34

Short and sweet PowerShell. Not sure what the lowest version of PS it will work with.

Remove-Item c:\Tmp\* -Recurse -Force
  • 5
    Nice and easy. This did the trick whilst the accepted answer did not!
    – Kappacake
    Nov 28, 2018 at 13:58
  • 2
    This should be the accepted answer, you can even just type rm * since it's not really advisable to force (the confirmation dialog has a "Yes to All" option anyway).
    – J Garcia
    Oct 30, 2019 at 4:49
  • 6
    This is nice and simple but is not exactly what the OP asked for. He wanted to leave the folder structure in place (but just delete the files). This removes the files and folders so you are left with nothing.
    – cbailiss
    Sep 27, 2020 at 7:59
  • 12
    This doesn't meet the "so I'm left with an empty folder structure" part, it deletes folders too Feb 3, 2021 at 10:54
  • 5
    this will delete eveerything inside a folder (including sub-folders), but the OP wanted to keep all the sub-folders.
    – NFR
    Mar 16, 2021 at 4:46

You can do so with del command:

dir C:\folder
del /S *

The /S switch is to delete only files recursively.

  • 2
    Will this only delete files but leave the folders?
    – RobN
    Apr 15, 2014 at 12:56
  • 5
    Yes. You can add /P option so it will ask you to confirm every delete just to check that.
    – ek9
    Apr 15, 2014 at 12:59
  • thanks ill give it a go! hopefully will save loads of time!
    – RobN
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:11
  • 3
    Yes. And for deleting hidden and system files, do attrib -s -r -h Folder\*.* /s /d before deleting. And for permissions use takeown command.
    – Jet
    Apr 25, 2014 at 13:49
  • 3
    And you can use /Q to NOT ask for confirmation when using wildcards.
    – Thierry J
    Sep 25, 2015 at 0:41

Using PowerShell:

Get-ChildItem -Path c:\temp -Include * | remove-Item -recurse 

Reading between the lines on your original question I can offer an alternative BATCH code line you can use. What this will do when ran is only delete files that are over 60 days old. This way you can put this in a scheduled task and when it runs it deletes the excess files that you don't need rather than blowing away the whole directory. You can change 60 to 5 days or even 1 day if you wanted to. This does not delete folders.

forfiles -p "c:\path\to\files" -d -60 -c "cmd /c del /f /q @path"
  • Thanks for the idea but currently I think the "emptying" process will be completed on a very unscheduled adhoc time frame. I'll keep that code for the future though! Cheers
    – RobN
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:42
  • The title reads "Delete all files from a folder and its sub folders" so this is not a solution. Aug 22, 2017 at 6:26

Use PowerShell to Delete a Single File or Folder. Before executing the Delete command in powershell we need to make sure you are logged in to the server or PC with an account that has full access to the objects you want to delete.

With Example: http://dotnet-helpers.com/powershell-demo/how-to-delete-a-folder-or-file-using-powershell/

Using PowerShell commnads to delete a file

Remove-Item -Path "C:\dotnet-helpers\DummyfiletoDelete.txt"

The above command will execute and delete the “DummyfiletoDelete.txt” file which present inside the “C:\dotnet-helpers” location.

Using PowerShell commnads to delete all files

Remove-Item -Path "C:\dotnet-helpers*.*"

Using PowerShell commnads to delete all files and folders

Remove-Item -Path "C:\dotnet-helpers*.*" -recurse

-recurse drills down and finds lots more files. The –recurse parameter will allow PowerShell to remove any child items without asking for permission. Additionally, the –force parameter can be added to delete hidden or read-only files.

Using -Force command to delete files forcefully

Using PowerShell command to delete all files forcefully

Remove-Item -Path "C:\dotnet-helpers*.*" -Force


This is the easiest way IMO

Open PowerShell, navigate to the directory (cd), THEN

ls -Recurse * | rm

(Poof) everything is gone...

If you want to delete based on a specific extension

ls -Recurse *.docx | rm

ls is listing the directory

-Recurse is a flag telling powershell to go into any sub directories

* says everything

*.doc everything with .doc extension

| feed the output from the left to the right

rm delete

All the other answers appear to make this more confusing than necessary.


Try this using PowerShell. In this example I want to delete all the .class files:

Get-ChildItem '.\FOLDERNAME' -include *.class -recurse | foreach ($_) {remove-item $_.FullName}
  1. In Windows Explorer select the root dir containing all the files and folders.

  2. Search for *

  3. Sort by Type (All the folders will be at the top and all the files listed underneath)

  4. Select all the files and press Delete.

This will delete all the files and preserve the directory structure.


Delete all files from current directory and sub-directories but leaving the folders structure.

(/Q) switch is for asking the user if he is ok to delete

Caution : try it without the /Q to make sure you are not deleting anything precious.

del /S * /Q 

We can delete all the files in the folder and its sub folders via the below command.

Get-ChildItem -Recurse -Path 'D:\Powershell Practice' |Where-Object{$_.GetType() -eq [System.IO.FileInfo]} |Remove-Item


Get-ChildItem -Recurse -Path 'D:\Powershell Practice' -File | Remove-Item
  • 1
    $Path = 'c:\Folder'; Get-ChildItem $Path -File -Recurse | Remove-Item Mar 1, 2020 at 7:59
dir C:\testx\ -Recurse -File | rd -WhatIf
What if: Performing the operation "Remove File" on target "C:\testx\x.txt".
What if: Performing the operation "Remove File" on target "C:\testx\bla\x.txt".

With Powershell 5.1:

$extensions_list = Get-ChildItem -Path 'C:\folder_path\' -Recurse

foreach ( $extension in $extensions_list) {

    if ($extension.Attributes -notlike "Directory") {

        Remove-Item $extension.FullName  

It's removes all itens that are not Directory.

$extension.FullName = Item Path

$extension.Attributes = Item Type ( Directory or Archive )


PowerShell example.

I found some paths don't play nicely, so using -LiteralPath works in all cases.

Help on which can be found on the MS docs for Remove-Item.

# To delete all files within a folder and its subfolders.

$subDir = "Z:\a path to\somewhere\"

# Remove the -WhatIf and -Verbose here once you're happy with the result.
Get-ChildItem -LiteralPath $subDir -File -Recurse | Remove-Item -Verbose -WhatIf

If all your files have an extension and none of your folders have a dot, you can do the following:

Remove-Item C:\Test\* -Include *.* -Recurse

Check the official documentation which provides multiples examples.

  • Remove-Item doc suggests not to use -Recurse as it has some issues. https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/module/microsoft.powershell.management/remove-item?view=powershell-7.2#example-4-delete-files-in-subfolders-recursively Mar 2, 2023 at 5:26
  • Get-ChildItem may be more advisable but I haven't test but I'm not sure to see where the doc indicate issues. In any case, the above line worked like a charm in my case.
    – Nereis
    Mar 2, 2023 at 10:38
  • This is from the doc - Because the Recurse parameter in Remove-Item has a known issue, the command in this example uses Get-ChildItem to get the desired files, and then uses the pipeline operator to pass them to Remove-Item Mar 3, 2023 at 15:57

As a complement to the above answers, actually there's no need to use the Get-Childitem and pass the result to the pipeline in the above answers, because the -Include keyword is included in the Remove-Item command

One can simply:

Remove-Item -Include "." "C:\Temp" -Recurse

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