std::filesystem::remove, std::filesystem::remove_all

Defined in header <filesystem>
bool remove(const std::filesystem::path& p);
bool remove(const std::filesystem::path& p, std::error_code& ec) noexcept;
(1) (since C++17)
(2) (since C++17)
1) The file or empty directory identified by the path p is deleted as if by the POSIX remove. Symlinks are not followed (symlink is removed, not its target)
2) Deletes the contents of p (if it is a directory) and the contents of all its subdirectories, recursively, then deletes p itself as if by repeatedly applying the POSIX remove. Symlinks are not followed (symlink is removed, not its target)


p - path to delete
ec - out-parameter for error reporting in the non-throwing overload

Return value

1) true if the file was deleted, false if it did not exist. The overload that takes error_code& argument returns false on errors.
2) Returns the number of files and directories that were deleted (which may be zero if p did not exist to begin with). The overload that takes error_code& argument returns static_cast<std::uintmax_t>(-1) on error.


The overload that does not take a std::error_code& parameter throws filesystem_error on underlying OS API errors, constructed with p as the first path argument and the OS error code as the error code argument. The overload taking a std::error_code& parameter sets it to the OS API error code if an OS API call fails, and executes ec.clear() if no errors occur. Any overload not marked noexcept may throw std::bad_alloc if memory allocation fails.


On POSIX systems, this function typically calls unlink and rmdir as needed, on Windows RemoveDirectoryW and DeleteFileW.

Defect reports

The following behavior-changing defect reports were applied retroactively to previously published C++ standards.

DR Applied to Behavior as published Correct behavior
LWG 3014 C++17 error_code overload of remove_all marked noexcept but can allocate memory noexcept removed


#include <iostream>
#include <cstdint>
#include <filesystem>
namespace fs = std::filesystem;
int main()
    fs::path dir = fs::temp_directory_path();
    fs::create_directories(dir / "abcdef/example");
    std::uintmax_t n = fs::remove_all(dir / "abcdef");
    std::cout << "Deleted " << n << " files or directories\n";

Possible output:

Deleted 2 files or directories

See also

erases a file