rm — remove files or directories


rm [OPTION...] [FILE...]


This manual page documents the GNU version of rm. rm removes each specified file. By default, it does not remove directories.

If the −I or −−interactive=once option is given, and there are more than three files or the −r, −R, or −−recursive are given, then rm prompts the user for whether to proceed with the entire operation. If the response is not affirmative, the entire command is aborted.

Otherwise, if a file is unwritable, standard input is a terminal, and the −f or −−force option is not given, or the −i or −−interactive=always option is given, rm prompts the user for whether to remove the file. If the response is not affirmative, the file is skipped.


Remove (unlink) the FILE(s).

−f, −−force

ignore nonexistent files and arguments, never prompt


prompt before every removal


prompt once before removing more than three files, or when removing recursively; less intrusive than −i, while still giving protection against most mistakes


prompt according to WHEN: never, once (−I), or always (−i); without WHEN, prompt always


when removing a hierarchy recursively, skip any directory that is on a file system different from that of the corresponding command line argument


do not treat '/' specially


do not remove '/' (default); with 'all', reject any command line argument on a separate device from its parent

−r, −R, −−recursive

remove directories and their contents recursively

−d, −−dir

remove empty directories

−v, −−verbose

explain what is being done


display this help and exit


output version information and exit

By default, rm does not remove directories. Use the −−recursive (−r or −R) option to remove each listed directory, too, along with all of its contents.

To remove a file whose name starts with a '−', for example '−foo', use one of these commands:

rm -- -foo
rm ./-foo

Note that if you use rm to remove a file, it might be possible to recover some of its contents, given sufficient expertise and/or time. For greater assurance that the contents are truly unrecoverable, consider using shred(1).


Written by Paul Rubin, David MacKenzie, Richard M. Stallman, and Jim Meyering.


GNU coreutils online help: <>

Report any translation bugs to <>


unlink(1), unlink(2), chattr(1), shred(1)

Full documentation <>

or available locally via: info '(coreutils) rm invocation'


Copyright © 2022 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>.

This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.