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This page describes how to delete files through terminal.

Commands for deleting files

The terminal command for deleting file(s) is rm. The general format of this command is rm [-f|i|I|q|R|r|v] file...

rm removes a file if you specify a correct path for it and if you don't, then it displays an error message and move on to the next file. Sometimes you may not have the write permissions for a file, in that case it asks you for confirmation. Type yes if you want to delete it.


  1. -f - deletes read-only files immediately without any confirmation.If both -f and -i are used then the one which appears last in the terminal is used by rm.

  2. -i - prompts for confirmation before deleting every file beforing entering a sub-directory if used with -R or -r. If both -f and -i are used then the one which appears last in the terminal is used by rm.

  3. -q - suppresses all the warning messages however error messages are still displayed. However the exit status is modified in case of any errors.

  4. -R - means delete recursively and is used to delete the directory tree starting at the directory specified i.e. it deletes the specified directory along with its sub-directory and files.

  5. -r - same as -R.

  6. -v - displays the file names on the output as they are being processed.

  7. -I - prompts everytime when an attempt is made to delete for than 3 files at a time or while removing recursively.


  1. Never type sudo rm -R / or sudo rm -r / as it deletes all the data in the root directory and will delete the data of all the mounted volumes until you want to wipe of everything from your system.

  2. sudo rm -f /* also does blunders with your system.


It is possible to recover files deleted through rm . If you want to permanently delete a file use shred.


DeletingFiles (last edited 2011-04-08 12:22:53 by k.dejong)