How do I remove/delete a folder that is not empty with Python?

0 votes
asked Nov 19, 2008 by amara

I am getting an 'access is denied' error when I attempt to delete a folder that is not empty. I used the following command in my attempt: os.remove("/folder_name").

What is the most effective way of removing/deleting a folder/directory that is not empty?

12 Answers

0 votes
answered Nov 19, 2008 by ddaa
import shutil


Standard Library Reference: shutil.rmtree.

0 votes
answered Nov 19, 2008 by kkubasik

From the python docs on os.walk():

# Delete everything reachable from the directory named in 'top',
# assuming there are no symbolic links.
# CAUTION:  This is dangerous!  For example, if top == '/', it
# could delete all your disk files.
import os
for root, dirs, files in os.walk(top, topdown=False):
    for name in files:
        os.remove(os.path.join(root, name))
    for name in dirs:
        os.rmdir(os.path.join(root, name))
0 votes
answered Nov 22, 2010 by p-m

if you are sure, that you want to delete the entire dir tree, and are no more interested in contents of dir, then crawling for entire dir tree is stupidness... just call native OS command from python to do that. It will be faster, efficient and less memory consuming.

RMDIR c:\blah /s /q 

or *nix

rm -rf /home/whatever 

In python, the code will look like..

import sys
import os

mswindows = (sys.platform == "win32")

def getstatusoutput(cmd):
    """Return (status, output) of executing cmd in a shell."""
    if not mswindows:
        return commands.getstatusoutput(cmd)
    pipe = os.popen(cmd + ' 2>&1', 'r')
    text =
    sts = pipe.close()
    if sts is None: sts = 0
    if text[-1:] == '\n': text = text[:-1]
    return sts, text

def deleteDir(path):
    """deletes the path entirely"""
    if mswindows: 
        cmd = "RMDIR "+ path +" /s /q"
        cmd = "rm -rf "+path
    result = getstatusoutput(cmd)
        raise RuntimeError(result[1])
0 votes
answered Nov 7, 2014 by siva-mandadi
import shutil
shutil.rmtree(dest, ignore_errors=True)
0 votes
answered Nov 3, 2015 by yota

from python 3.4 you may use :

import pathlib

def delete_folder(pth) :
    for sub in pth.iterdir() :
        if sub.is_dir() :
        else :
    pth.rmdir() # if you just want to delete dir content, remove this line

where pth is a pathlib.Path instance. Nice, but may not be the fastest.

0 votes
answered Nov 6, 2015 by charles-chow

Base on kkubasik's answer, check if folder exists before remove, more robust

import shutil
def remove_folder(path):
    # check if folder exists
    if os.path.exists(path):
         # remove if exists
0 votes
answered Nov 12, 2015 by rongyanzheng
def errorRemoveReadonly(func, path, exc):
    excvalue = exc[1]
    if func in (os.rmdir, os.remove) and excvalue.errno == errno.EACCES:
        # change the file to be readable,writable,executable: 0777
        os.chmod(path, stat.S_IRWXU | stat.S_IRWXG | stat.S_IRWXO)  
        # retry
        raiseenter code here

If ignore_errors is set, errors are ignored; otherwise, if onerror is set, it is called to handle the error with arguments (func, path, exc_info) where func is os.listdir, os.remove, or os.rmdir; path is the argument to that function that caused it to fail; and exc_info is a tuple returned by sys.exc_info(). If ignore_errors is false and onerror is None, an exception is raised.enter code here

0 votes
answered Nov 8, 2016 by byron-filer

If you don't want to use the shutil module you can just use the os module.

from os import listdir, rmdir, remove
for i in listdir(directoryToRemove):
    os.remove(os.path.join(directoryToRemove, i))
rmdir(directoryToRemove) # Now the directory is empty of files
0 votes
answered Sep 15, 2017 by amazingthere
def deleteDir(dirPath):
    deleteFiles = []
    deleteDirs = []
    for root, dirs, files in os.walk(dirPath):
        for f in files:
            deleteFiles.append(os.path.join(root, f))
        for d in dirs:
            deleteDirs.append(os.path.join(root, d))
    for f in deleteFiles:
    for d in deleteDirs:
0 votes
answered Sep 15, 2017 by eponymous

To delete a folder even if it might not exist (avoiding the race condition in Charles Chow's answer) but still have errors when other things go wrong (e.g. permission problems, disk read error, the file isn't a directory)

For Python 3.x:

import shutil

def ignore_absent_file(func, path, exc_inf):
    except_instance = exc_inf[1]
    if isinstance(except_instance, FileNotFoundError):
    raise except_instance

shutil.rmtree(dir_to_delete, onerror=ignore_absent_file)

The Python 2.7 code is almost the same:

import shutil
import errno

def ignore_absent_file(func, path, exc_inf):
    except_instance = exc_inf[1]
    if isinstance(except_instance, OSError) and \
        except_instance.errno == errno.ENOENT:
    raise except_instance

shutil.rmtree(dir_to_delete, onerror=ignore_absent_file)
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