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Delete / Remove a Directory Linux Command

I am a new Linux user. How do I delete or remove a directory using command line option?

You can use the following commands to delete the directory (also known as folder in the Macintosh OS X and Microsoft Windows operating system).

a] rmdir command – Deletes the specified empty directories.

b] rm command – Delete the file including sub-directories.

Syntax- rmdir command

The rmdir command remove the DIRECTORY(ies), if they are empty. The syntax is:

rmdir directory-name
rmdir [option] directory-name


Open a command-line terminal (select Applications > Accessories > Terminal), and then type the following command to remove a directory called /tmp/docs:

rmdir /tmp/docs

If a directory is not empty you will get an error:
$ rmdir letters

rmdir: letters: Directory not empty

You can cd to the directory to find out files:
$ cd letters
$ ls

In this example, remove data, foo and bar if bar were empty, foo only contained bar and data only contained foo directories:

cd /home/nixcraft
rmdir -p data/foo/bar


  1. -p – Each directory argument is treated as a pathname of which all components will be removed, if they are empty, starting with the last most component.

Linux remove entire directory including all files and sub-directories command

To remove all directories and subdirectories use rm command. For example remove *.doc files and all subdirectories and files inside letters directory, type the following command (warning all files including subdirectories will be deleted permanently):
$ rm -rf letters/

  1. -r : Attempt to remove the file hierarchy rooted in each file argument i.e. recursively remove subdirectories and files from the specified directory.
  2. -f : Attempt to remove the files without prompting for confirmation, regardless of the file’s permissions
See also
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{ 101 comments… add one }
  • yogi April 28, 2008, 3:24 am

    very good
    i give five star

    • Sourav August 2, 2012, 7:36 am

      Getting error as : Permission denied

      • Chris Lentz August 10, 2012, 1:53 pm

        Try running with ‘sudo’ command in front of it.

  • vishwa May 20, 2008, 10:25 am

    i tried it , very good can delete a large directory also.

    i give 5 stars

    • Kshitiz Singh April 14, 2012, 4:36 am

      I give it a 3 star. There has to be a more flexible way to do it. Removing files permanently is not a good option for linux this is a windows kind of rubbish thing

      • Mark October 7, 2012, 6:03 pm

        It’s not exactly permanent in Windows either. In fact, the “undelete” command has been available for quite some time… the Recycle Bin/Trash makes it possible to restore in both operating systems (from the GUI of course). I’m not exactly glorifying M$ but they aren’t exactly the cesspool of operating systems… LOL they’re not the best either but if M$ Windows were FREE and/or Open it may change some opinions.

  • Yury October 31, 2008, 11:05 am

    thank you

  • Arif November 6, 2008, 5:06 am

    Very effective

  • suveetha November 28, 2008, 11:45 am


  • manjunath December 8, 2008, 5:10 pm

    thanks a lot

  • Ed December 10, 2008, 9:27 am

    rm: cannot remove `unixODBC//exe/.libs/odbcinst’: Permission denied

    I got loads of these messages, must I go through each file and change their permissions?

  • nixCraft December 10, 2008, 9:34 am

    Run rm as root. Otherwise use chmod -R to change permission.

  • Ed December 10, 2008, 9:47 am

    thanks for the reply Vivek

  • krishna February 7, 2009, 10:32 am

    thanks yaar really works

  • raja February 10, 2009, 12:33 pm

    Thanks for remove with sub directory cmd is rm -rf

  • ralph February 12, 2009, 4:42 pm

    Awesome! great!

  • ghan March 4, 2009, 1:26 am

    Save my time. Very useful. Thanks a lot!

  • nguyen ngoc thanh March 19, 2009, 2:18 am

    very good!

  • hari March 25, 2009, 3:33 pm

    Thanks ! its very useful.

  • phani March 30, 2009, 9:13 am

    thaks..a lot. i know the differnce between rmdir and rm -rf.

  • Nandlal Sahu April 1, 2009, 10:21 am

    i give 5 star

  • ganesh April 13, 2009, 5:19 am

    its very effective

  • Timon April 14, 2009, 7:49 pm

    Thank you is very usefull post :)

  • Jordan May 8, 2009, 4:15 am

    Thank u very much it works properly

  • Sukhdeep Singh July 14, 2009, 12:51 pm

    Thank You
    Very very useful post sir

  • anad July 15, 2009, 4:40 pm

    worked for me

  • pravin August 7, 2009, 6:08 am

    Hello all
    i am having some trouble in deleting a directory in ubuntu. actually my directory’s ownership changes to ?? ?? also file size is also changed to ?? only name is there and all things changes to ?? like this,
    ls: cannot access pg_database: No such file or directory
    total 0
    -????????? ? ? ? ? ? pg_database
    I need your suggestions

    Thanks in advance !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Max August 12, 2009, 12:19 pm

    very useful info ! Thanks

  • Draco August 14, 2009, 11:11 pm

    Thanks a lot! I needed it for work and didn’t want to take chance to mess sth up.

  • Juan Guillermo August 31, 2009, 5:11 am

    -r Stands for Recursive and -f Stands for Force

    Take care with the effect when using ‘-rf’ flags

  • amit September 1, 2009, 5:39 pm


  • traverlawre October 19, 2009, 2:52 am

    In Linux correct command would be rm -rf /letters/
    The slash before the directory name is required or else it will not be seen as a directory and you will get an error. Also, consider using sudo such as:
    sudo rm -rf /letters/ when permissions conflict.

  • Sujan November 24, 2009, 5:08 am

    Thanks traverlawre,
    ‘sudo’ did it. Without ‘sudo’ I had permission denied for many files that I wanted to remove.

  • Shady December 3, 2009, 1:43 pm

    excellent article

  • siropio December 7, 2009, 2:28 pm

    worked! thanks

  • d134 December 12, 2009, 8:45 pm

    thanx a lot

  • lalish February 3, 2010, 5:56 am

    its niceeeeee

  • Rajive March 10, 2010, 8:01 am

    Thanks a lot bro

    Helped me a lot.

  • Tarun April 15, 2010, 9:35 am

    how to remove the directory with spaces.
    rm -rf “file name”
    it dosnt works.

    • akhil September 19, 2016, 2:34 am

      it’s worked to me.

  • kaptenvu June 23, 2010, 6:44 am

    try this :
    rm -rf file\ name\ with\ spaces

  • Shabbir Ahmed June 24, 2010, 9:53 am

    I am installing oracle10 database on linux (rh4em) plz can i have the easiest steps taht first time i can understand.

  • Guru July 29, 2010, 1:00 pm

    Is any linux/unix command to delete one folder among 5 folders inside directory?
    Thanks with anticipation

  • Balaraju/Aniruddh Divy Tej August 21, 2010, 9:59 am

    information is most use full thanks for your help
    I appreciate your great help

  • Esonz August 23, 2010, 5:27 am

    Great! taynk yow!

  • Frederik August 26, 2010, 12:04 pm

    Thanx seems to be very useful however I’m using Slax to access a damaged NTFS drive and am having trouble deleting files from that drive, i can read the files fine however i can’t change permissions for any of the files or folders and the drive is mounted with the ntfs -3g command so it should be editable. i’ve tried the chmod command without luck. any ideas?

    Thanks a ton in advance…

  • random September 25, 2010, 4:51 pm

    Thanks a lot !!! very effective

  • dana October 30, 2010, 1:48 am

    You have been bailing me out countless of times. Thanks!

  • Miguel Costa November 9, 2010, 10:56 am

    :) tks a lot
    You really helped me ;)

    • sandeep choudhary November 10, 2010, 4:33 pm

      i m unsetisfide

  • lara December 2, 2010, 3:47 am

    thanks 4 the nice idea about that!.. hehe

  • nagesh December 19, 2010, 8:42 am

    cool command…. simply works great,thanks

  • Rakesh January 4, 2011, 5:51 am

    Thank you

  • Pankaj January 27, 2011, 5:36 am

    Thanks…! it helps

  • Sivasangkari February 9, 2011, 8:27 am

    Thanks a lot…it’s very helpful…

  • Nisha March 31, 2011, 4:14 am

    Thanks a lot..

  • Duncan Murimi April 26, 2011, 12:17 pm

    Very useful. for permission denied folders add sudo in front.

  • Marco May 18, 2011, 10:26 am

    thanks! save me some time as im new to linux!

  • Terryble September 8, 2011, 1:25 pm

    rm -rf

    will remove it without any answer needed.

    rm -r without (-f for force) will request you a reply to remove each files.
    rm -r ntop-4.1.0
    rm: descend into directory `ntop-4.1.0′? yes
    rm: remove regular file `ntop-4.1.0/ntop_win32.h’?

  • Rahinur Rahaman September 14, 2011, 3:20 am


    It works for me

  • Nitin October 26, 2011, 2:04 am

    Thanks :)

  • Raghavendra November 16, 2011, 7:34 am

    Please guide me If i have mutipal folders in same dir.
    ls -x
    Now I want delete ..a c d dir.How can I delete in singal command

    • syamkumar December 21, 2011, 6:03 am

      Thanks its very useful.

  • harga laptop January 23, 2012, 10:21 am

    What’s the command to find all files with extension tmp (ex: *.tmp) and then delete them automatically? Thanks

  • n0de February 16, 2012, 9:36 pm

    very nice, worked like a charm keep up the good work ;)

  • Tirumal February 18, 2012, 12:24 pm

    Thanks for info…! It was really helpful

  • Shashank April 3, 2012, 3:19 pm

    thank a lot it’s working excellently

  • khalid April 26, 2012, 10:19 pm

    thanks a lot save my time

  • Yousefzad May 16, 2012, 4:39 am

    Thank you very Much for the information, i found it so useful.


  • Jacob July 3, 2012, 1:29 pm

    Is there a way to delete like every directory named a special name if so I have 19 directorys with the same name on my dedicated debian server and I want to delete all of them then it just searches for the names and deletes them?

  • Alireza July 13, 2012, 12:35 pm

    Thank you.

  • Onneile August 27, 2012, 5:55 pm

    Thanks, it worked for me

  • Syed Ahmed September 4, 2012, 4:24 am

    I have problem of Koha perl comiling…. when I put the command…. following …

    sudo perl Makefile.PL
    Can’t locate ZOOM.pm in @INC (@INC contains: /koha-latest/koha-3.08.04 /etc/perl /usr/local/lib/perl/5.14.2 /usr/local/share/perl/5.14.2 /usr/lib/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 /usr/lib/perl/5.14 /usr/share/perl/5.14 /usr/local/lib/site_perl .) at /koha-latest/koha-3.08.04/C4/Context.pm line 102.
    BEGIN failed–compilation aborted at /koha-latest/koha-3.08.04/C4/Context.pm line 102.
    Compilation failed in require at /koha-latest/koha-3.08.04/C4/Installer.pm line 24.
    BEGIN failed–compilation aborted at /koha-latest/koha-3.08.04/C4/Installer.pm line 24.
    Compilation failed in require at Makefile.PL line 31.
    BEGIN failed–compilation aborted at Makefile.PL line 31.

    Then showing this command

    What to do now… Pls give me …. msg


    Syed Ahmed

  • Mekbib September 10, 2012, 7:17 am

    Thanks i found it helpful.

  • Anoop September 11, 2012, 5:27 am

    It was really useful. Thank you

  • Varsha Katre September 15, 2012, 10:43 am

    Thank you very much!!! It worked!! :) :) :)

  • Amiya September 28, 2012, 3:43 pm

    nice one..very help full info..

    i will give *****

  • Hamid October 15, 2012, 7:20 am

    دمت گرم اينم تو اونت
    Thank you very much. It’s very good!

  • Julio November 1, 2012, 7:26 pm

    Thanks a lot, this was really helpful!

  • Martial Tchuente November 27, 2012, 8:52 am

    This definitely solved my problem.
    I’m still a Linux newbie.

  • Nick January 3, 2013, 3:42 pm

    thank you so much I was about 30 seconds away from doing a hard restore on my iphone but luckily I found this forum first! I was desperate I could not find a way to remove my directory thanks to an archive that the program was unable to locate…the prgram was not installed but it was not complletely uninstalled and i could neither delete or load my cydia directory. Thanks so much!

    Just on a side note…anyone know what to do now that the hackulous team has disassembled??

  • Tom G February 6, 2013, 11:32 pm

    Thanks a lot!

    Another tip: you can use wildcards to remove many folders which have the same name at the start, E.G to remove all the folders “recup_dir.1” , “recup_dir.2”, “recup_dir.3″

    I would type ” sudo rm -rf recup_dir*** ” and all the folders disappear :) This was very useful as a file ‘undeleter’ left me with loads of these folders!

  • Elrafie March 16, 2013, 8:38 pm

    sudo rm -r /home/elrafie/recup_dir.1
    sudo rm -r /home/elrafie/recup_dir.2

  • xyz July 17, 2013, 7:13 am

    it worked…:)

  • mydhili warrier July 25, 2013, 7:42 am

    thank u soooooo muchhhhhhhhh…:)its working…:) :) :)
    can anyone plzz help me with this..?? i need to change my directory and the dir name contains 3 words separated by spaces.. like “whole Project Mydhili”. I tried

    cd whole Project Mydhili

    but the result was :there is no such file or directory”. My path to the dir is correct and when i gave an ls command ,i can see this dir in the list…but am not able to make it as my pwd..!! i tried as super user (sudo) too..
    plzz if u could help me,i will b so thaankful to u.

  • Uncle December 7, 2013, 2:04 pm

    Thanks Helpful Stuff

  • chatu January 29, 2014, 5:31 am

    to remove all the content in a dir

    commad :: rm -rf *

  • chatu January 29, 2014, 5:31 am

    to remove all the content in a dir

    commad :: rm -rf *

  • Jai Prakash Yadav March 3, 2014, 12:40 pm

    I want to remove folder , pls suggest which command i can use..

  • Nik March 19, 2014, 3:43 pm

    Thank you !!

  • Charlie May 15, 2014, 11:03 pm

    here is another:
    mv folder /tmp

  • Venkat July 13, 2014, 9:10 pm


    I have created a .trash hidden directory to get the removed files to use as recyclic bin by using the below command
    alias rm=’mv\!*~/.trash’
    Now I could not use rm -rf or rmdir command.

    Error message is coming as
    :bash= mv\!*~/.trash : directory or file not found.
    Can anyone please help me? in this. It will be very helpful to me.

  • Ranjeet July 14, 2014, 3:26 pm


    I’m trying to delete a directory Test2(e.g.: /home/apps/Test/Test1/Test2 by executing sh script.

    cd /home/apps/Test/Test1
    rm -rf Test2

    But if Test2 directory is already deleted then it throws error. I want to proceed further even if Test2 is not present. Can some one please help me out?

  • Ramlee August 6, 2014, 1:12 am

    Yesterday, I incorrectly extracted a soundfont to the following location : /usr/share/sounds/sf2/GeneralUser GS 1.44 FluidSynth.
    I would like to delete that last folder completely along with all contents and then install the soundfont correctly. I’ve tried almost every combination of the command line codes given above (rm -rf) but nothng seems to happen. I suspect I’m not typing in the command correctly. Any help would be appreciated.

    Regards Ramlee.

  • shivaji September 11, 2014, 8:32 am

    Thank you for the guidance.

  • juvy October 2, 2014, 11:55 am

    what is the command on how to create and delete a folder in cent os 6 ? pls ans. thanks :)

  • Mozah Chisanger November 26, 2014, 6:34 am

    This so nice. Thank you!

  • Francesco February 27, 2015, 12:50 pm

    Hi, I have a problem with this command :

    A file that contain “è” is recognised as “??” and when I try to delete it with the rm command (or rm -rf) I get the following error :

    rm: cannot remove ‘Wolf – La Belva ?? Fuori – 1994.avi’: No such file or directory

    Its not a directory but an avi file

    tried with the following :

    rm 'Wolf - La Belva ?? Fuori - 1994.avi'
    rm -r 'Wolf - La Belva ?? Fuori - 1994.avi'
    rm ./"Wolf - La Belva ?? Fuori - 1994.avi"
    rm -rf ./"Wolf - La Belva ?? Fuori - 1994.avi"

    nothing works :(

    Can someone please help me to find the correct command ? Thank you so much!


  • Bhimashankar March 3, 2016, 3:21 am

    thanku sir

  • Dler October 15, 2016, 5:35 pm

    Thank you, this worked!

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