The closest I've gotten is

# rm /path/to/directory/*.*

but that doesn't work for files that don't have an extension...


Linux does not use extensions. It is up to the creator of the file to decide whether the name should have an extension. Linux looks at the first few bytes to figure out what kind of file it is dealing with.

  • To remove all non-hidden files* in a directory use:

    rm /path/to/directory/*

    However, this will show an error for each sub-directory, because in this mode it is only allowed to delete files.

  • To remove all non-hidden files and sub-directories (along with all of their contents) in a directory use:

    rm -r /path/to/directory/*

* Hidden files and directories are those whose names start with . (dot) character, e.g.: .hidden-file or .hidden-directory/. Note that, in Bash, if the dotglob option (which is off by default) is set, rm will act on hidden files too, because they will be included when * is expanded by the shell to provide the list of filename arguments.

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    If you also want to delete hidden files run shopt -s dotglob before running rm (...) – danjjl Sep 6 '11 at 8:10
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    The * means all files ;) *.* means all files containing a . somewhere in the name – Rinzwind Sep 6 '11 at 8:20
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    @Rinzwind, more accurately, the asterisk means "zero or more of any character". So *a* means zero or more characters, followed by a followed by zero or more characters. It would match the filenames happy, apple, a or la. – DisgruntledGoat Sep 6 '11 at 13:43
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    @user784637 you are too easily impressed – barlop Sep 3 '14 at 16:10
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    I would've just used rm -r /path/to/directory except that will get rid of the directory itself. At least this way you can get rid of the hidden files too – Kolob Canyon Sep 22 '16 at 18:41
  • To remove the folder with all its contents(including all interior folders):

    rm -rf /path/to/directory
  • To remove all the contents of the folder(including all interior folders) but not the folder itself:

    rm -rf /path/to/directory/*


    rm -rf /path/to/directory/{*,.*}

    if you want to make sure that hidden files/directories are also removed.

  • To remove all the "files" from inside a folder(not removing interior folders):

    rm -f /path/to/directory/{*,.*}

  • Warning: if you have spaces in your path, make sure to always use quotes.

    rm -rf /path/to the/directory/*

    is equivalent to 2 separate rm -rf calls:

    rm -rf /path/to
    rm -rf the/directory/*

    To avoid this issue, you can use 'single-quotes'(does not expand shell variables) or "double-quotes"(expands shell variables):

    rm -rf "/path/to the/directory/"*


  • rm - stands for "remove"
  • -f - stands for "force" which is helpful when you don't want to be asked/prompted if you want to remove an archive, for example.
  • -r - stands for "recursive" which means that you want to go recursively down every folder and remove everything.
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    I found this to be the more comprehensive and helpful answer, over and above the answer that was marked as Accepted. – inspirednz Aug 20 '16 at 1:58
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    rm -rf /path/to/directory/* does not remove a hidden file in the folder e.g. .htaccess. Maybe rm -rf /path/to/directory/.? Haven't tried it. – Mark Berry Mar 29 '17 at 1:33
  • @MarkBerry rm -rf /path/to/directory/.* – Lilian A. Moraru Mar 29 '17 at 14:57
  • @LilianA.Moraru, I did some testing today. rm -rf /path/to/directory/.* only deletes the hidden file(s) in the specified directory. Looking at the @danjjl's comment on @Rinzwind's answer, to also delete hidden files, run shopt -s dotglob before running rm -rf /path/to/directory/*. – Mark Berry Mar 29 '17 at 22:59
  • CAUTION: rm -rf /path/to/directory/.* on my system caused deletion of items in /path/to. Fortunately, I had just backed-up my entire data to a separate disk. Needless to say, do NOT issue the command rm -rf /path/to/directory/.* unless you have backed up your whole computer to a separate / secure location! – lawlist Sep 3 '18 at 18:32

To remove all files in directory (including hidden files and subdirectories) run:

rm -rf /path/to/directory/{*,.*}
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    This should be the beautiful accepted answer. Thank you! – Nam G VU Sep 22 '16 at 15:53
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    Doesn't this glob match "." and ".." too? – hertzsprung Jan 8 '17 at 13:28
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    @hertzsprung - it does, and it will give you a warning that it cannot delete ./ and ../, but it will still delete the hidden files. – Ryan Wheale Jan 31 '17 at 21:12
  • This does not work on Mac console, hidden files are still there with that command line. – agapitocandemor Aug 21 '18 at 8:36
  • To remove everything the current directory: rm -r $(pwd)/{*,.*} – Jimmy Adaro May 14 '19 at 21:01

If you want to delete only files in /path/to/directory you can do

find /path/to/directory -type f -print0| xargs -0 rm 


find /path/to/directory -type f -exec rm '{}' \;

You can do loads with find, the advantage is you can list what is found without piping it to rm so you can see what will be deleted before you start.

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    GNU find as a -delete predicate. If you still want to use -exec, substituting \; with + will gather rm calls together, increasing efficiency. – enzotib Sep 6 '11 at 12:19
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    large amount of files with '+' will cause problems, since list will be too large, same as rm -f *. and when removing large amounts of files from same folder (talking in millons) both of them are not good :) In the end C++ came along and removed files in order of inodes in dir-tree. – Osis Sep 6 '11 at 12:53
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    You really ought to add a -- after the rm. Without that if you have a file names -rf or similar will be interpreted as arguments to rm. e.g. xargs -0 rm -- or -exec rm -- {} \; – Richm Sep 6 '11 at 13:52
  • you can also provide the -n argument to xargs. That will cause it to split the rm commands to having a maximum number of arguments i.e. 'xargs -n 100 -0 rm --' will remove files in chunks of 100. – Richm Sep 6 '11 at 13:54
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    You can also add -maxdepth 1 to ensure that find does not return files from any subdirectories. i.e. find /path/to/directory -maxdepth 1 -type f – Richm Sep 6 '11 at 14:10

To delete all files and directories(including the hidden ones) in a directory, you can try the following:

  • delete the folder, then recreate it

    rm -rf dir_name && mkdir dir_name
  • use find

    find dir_name -mindepth 1 -delete  

Here we specify -mindepth 1 to exclude the directory dir_name itself.
Take a look at the following link:

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  • Thanks for your advice and I've added more explanation for the links. – zeekvfu Nov 28 '13 at 5:04
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    Be careful, since deleting and re-creating the folder might result in different/wrong permissions for this folder! – einjohn Aug 29 '15 at 12:20

If you also want to remove all subdirectories and the directory itself, you can use rm -rf /path/to/directory. But always double-check your line before pressing return, rm -rf can cause lots of havock as well, e.g. if you accidentally insert a space after the first slash while having superuser permissions...

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Since this question is constantly at the top of Google when I search for this myself:

The other answers suffer from different problems:

  1. Some of them include . and .. which is noisy, confusing, and annoying.

  2. Some of them forget hidden files (files beginning with a dot).

  3. They don't delete in a correct (deepest-first) order to allow directory deletion.

  4. They descend into other (mounted) file systems, which is often undesired.

  5. They're difficult to extend properly with extra parameters (more on that below).

So, to RECURSIVELY delete all files AND folders in a directory, do this:

find "${DIR}" -xdev -mindepth 1 -printf "%d\t%y\t%p\0" | sort -z -r -n | cut -z -f3- | xargs -0 -r -- rm -d --

Note that I added an -xdev argument to prevent descending into mounts (like /proc etc.).

Why not -depth or -delete?

Despite people constantly downvoting me for this, those methods have a downside: it doesn't seem like they're extensible enough to allow -pruneing a subdirectory (without introducing more problems). By contrast with this method, you could insert

-not \( -path "${DIR}/subdir" -prune \)

before the -mindepth argument to exclude subdir from having its contents deleted.

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  • And for depth-first order, there's a -depth flag in find for that. – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy May 21 '18 at 1:36
  • Uh... why not just use -delete with find? -delete is depth-first. You're already assuming non-POSIX find with the -printf, so you might just as well use -delete or -depth -print0 | xargs -0 rm – muru May 21 '18 at 6:41
  • @muru: Because I didn't know better... I'll change it. – user541686 May 21 '18 at 6:47
  • @muru: Actually, it seems your method doesn't work with -not \( -path "$DIR/subdir" \)... but mine does? Why? – user541686 May 21 '18 at 7:00
  • @Mehrdad what is that supposed to do? – muru May 21 '18 at 7:06

You can cd into the directory and then run the command rm *.* just like in DOS if you remember.

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    DOS is DEL for files and RMDIR for emptied directories- and hidden and system files must have those ATTRIB attributes removed first. Not nearly as simple ;) – Eric Jun 10 '15 at 13:03

To delete current directory, you could for example use rm -d ./*

-d tells to delete directories as well.

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