How to Delete Files and Directories with the Linux Command Line

In the Linux operating system, the command line is a powerful tool for managing files and directories. One of the most basic tasks you might need to perform is deleting files and directories. In this guide, we’ll cover the different commands you can use to delete files and directories with the Linux command line.

Deleting Files

To delete a file using the command line, you can use the rm command. The syntax is as follows:

rm [filename]

For example, if you want to delete a file named file.txt, you can run the following command:

rm [filename]

If the file is write-protected, the rm command will prompt you to confirm the deletion. To force deletion without confirmation, you can use the -f option:

rm -f file.txt

If you want to delete multiple files at once, you can specify the filenames separated by spaces:

rm file1.txt file2.txt file3.txt

You can also use wildcards to delete files based on a pattern. For example, to delete all files with the .txt extension in the current directory, you can run:

rm *.txt

Deleting Directories

To delete a directory using the command line, you can use the rmdir or rm command with the -r option. The rmdir command can only delete empty directories, while the rm command with the -r option can delete directories and their contents recursively.

To delete an empty directory using the rmdir command, run the following command:

rmdir [directoryname]

For example, to delete an empty directory named mydir, run:

rmdir mydir

If the directory is not empty, you can use the rm command with the -r option to delete it recursively:

rm -r [directoryname]

For example, to delete a directory named mydir and all its contents, run:

rm -r mydir

Be careful when using the rm command with the -r option, as it can delete files and directories recursively without prompting for confirmation.


The Linux command line provides powerful tools for managing files and directories, including the ability to delete them. By using the rm and rmdir commands with the appropriate options, you can quickly delete files and directories with ease. Just remember to use caution and double-check before deleting anything, as the command line can be unforgiving if used incorrectly.