The closest I've gotten is

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

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

  • See answer here, this can remove hidden files as well with out any warning and deleting directory itself stackoverflow.com/questions/43832107/…
    – Developer
    Oct 18, 2019 at 4:54
  • 1
    I don't have enough reputation to add a real answer, but when using the shopt -s dotglob && rm /path/to/directory/* solution in bash, (shopt -s dotglob && rm /path/to/directory/*) (with parentheses) will prevent shopt -s dotglob from leaking beyond this one command. (Parentheses run the contained commands in a subshell.) Apr 23, 2021 at 18:35

9 Answers 9


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.

  • 16
    If you also want to delete hidden files run shopt -s dotglob before running rm (...)
    – danjjl
    Sep 6, 2011 at 8:10
  • 12
    The * means all files ;) *.* means all files containing a . somewhere in the name
    – Rinzwind
    Sep 6, 2011 at 8:20
  • 12
    @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. Sep 6, 2011 at 13:43
  • 3
    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 Sep 22, 2016 at 18:41
  • 3
    if directory is empty the command returns error: rm: cannot remove 'empty_dir/*': No such file or directory
    – anton_rh
    Aug 24, 2018 at 11:20
  • To remove a 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/*

    or, if you want to make sure that hidden files/directories are also removed:

    rm -rf /path/to/directory/{*,.*}
  • 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'(prevents all expansions, even of shell variables) or "double-quotes"(allows expansion of shell variables, but prevents other expansions):

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.
  • 16
    I found this to be the more comprehensive and helpful answer, over and above the answer that was marked as Accepted.
    – inspirednz
    Aug 20, 2016 at 1:58
  • 2
    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, 2017 at 1:33
  • 1
    @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, 2017 at 22:59
  • 1
    @lawlist The intention was to keep it short and simple because people don't want to read basically an article but I added the warning about word splitting. Note that this is common and not specific to rm. Dec 21, 2018 at 8:06
  • 1
    This is not guaranteed to work due to "argument list too long".
    – Gqqnbig
    May 30, 2021 at 8:36

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

rm -rf /path/to/directory/{*,.*}
  • 2
    This should be the beautiful accepted answer. Thank you!
    – Nam G VU
    Sep 22, 2016 at 15:53
  • 7
    Doesn't this glob match "." and ".." too? Jan 8, 2017 at 13:28
  • 8
    @hertzsprung - it does, and it will give you a warning that it cannot delete ./ and ../, but it will still delete the hidden files. Jan 31, 2017 at 21:12
  • This does not work on Mac console, hidden files are still there with that command line. Aug 21, 2018 at 8:36
  • To remove everything the current directory: rm -r $(pwd)/{*,.*} May 14, 2019 at 21:01

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:

  • Thanks for your advice and I've added more explanation for the links.
    – zeekvfu
    Nov 28, 2013 at 5:04
  • 11
    Be careful, since deleting and re-creating the folder might result in different/wrong permissions for this folder!
    – einjohn
    Aug 29, 2015 at 12:20

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.

  • 2
    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, 2011 at 12:19
  • 1
    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, 2011 at 12:53
  • 3
    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, 2011 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, 2011 at 13:54
  • 1
    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, 2011 at 14:10

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...


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.

  • And for depth-first order, there's a -depth flag in find for that. May 21, 2018 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, 2018 at 6:41
  • @muru: Because I didn't know better... I'll change it.
    – user541686
    May 21, 2018 at 6:47
  • @muru: Actually, it seems your method doesn't work with -not \( -path "$DIR/subdir" \)... but mine does? Why?
    – user541686
    May 21, 2018 at 7:00
  • @Mehrdad what is that supposed to do?
    – muru
    May 21, 2018 at 7:06

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

  • 1
    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, 2015 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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