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Deleting files and directories

From: Unix for Mac OS X Users

Video: Deleting files and directories

Now that we have seen how to create, move, rename and copy files, we are ready to see how to go about deleting files and directories. Removing is very simple. Before I show you how, let me also just make the caveat, this is not the same thing as in the Finder when you delete something and it moves into your trash. If your remember ls -la, our user folder, and you'll see that there's this special folder called Trash and that is where things go. That's what's actually down here. When we put files in the trash that's where they exist.

Deleting files and directories

Now that we have seen how to create, move, rename and copy files, we are ready to see how to go about deleting files and directories. Removing is very simple. Before I show you how, let me also just make the caveat, this is not the same thing as in the Finder when you delete something and it moves into your trash. If your remember ls -la, our user folder, and you'll see that there's this special folder called Trash and that is where things go. That's what's actually down here. When we put files in the trash that's where they exist.

When we empty the trash, it empties them out. What happens when you delete a file in the Finder is it's actually moving it. It's not to empty the trash. That it actually deletes it. So there is a sort of buffer time where you can recover a file. Delete in Unix doesn't work that way. When you remove something, it is gone. It is gone right away. It doesn't move int to the trash. You can move things to your trash to if you want. No problem you can do that. You can move a file into the trash and it would sit there and wait until you actually have decided to empty your trash. But that's not what we are talking about here.

So let's just notice I am inside my unix_files folder in my user directory. Lets take a look at the files that are in there. Let's start by deleting this somefile.txt that we created a little while ago. To delete it, all we use is rm for remove, nice and simple. rm somefile.txt and now it's gone completely. So again, use it carefully. The file is completely gone, not recoverable, we can't get it back. So use that very wisely. What about with directories? Well let's try that. Let's try making a new directory.

We'll call it delete_me. Now we have made a directory and now let's try removing it. remove delete_me. It doesn't work. It comes and says ah, this is a directory. To remove directories, we have two options and there's a difference between them. The first is we can say rmdir. Just like we had make directory, now we have the reverse of that, remove directory. delete_me. Voila, deleted it. It's gone now. Now, the one thing about remove directory is it will only remove directories that are empty.

Let's try and remove directory on test1 copy that we created earlier. Directory not empty. So therefore, we have to go inside that directory and empty it out. Inside that directory, there may be more things and more things and more things. It could take a lot of emptying things out. In that case, what we have is actually the same thing as we had in copy recursive. Remember we had cp -R and that's how he created the copy of test1 to test1_copy. Well, we have the same thing remove, with the capital R, test1_copy.

So again, use this very carefully. It will remove everything that's in test1_copy recursively. So it doesn't care whether they are empty or not. It will remove non-empty directories. There it is. Now it's gone, take a look. Now test1_copy is gone too. So to review rm only removes files. rmdir only remove empty directories. It's up to us to go inside and empty them out, and there's no way to override that. There's no option you can pass in. rmdir is always safe that way.

That makes it good. It's a good choice to use most of the time. rm -R is really powerful. That's the one that will remove files and directories recursively and it doesn't care if the directories are empty by default. So just be careful with that one. That's the really powerful one. That's a great tool to have in your toolbox. But just be careful, as you are cutting away things. Make sure you don't accidentally cut away something you don't need to.

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This video is part of

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Unix for Mac OS X Users

82 video lessons · 25547 viewers

Kevin Skoglund
Author

 
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  1. 3m 57s
    1. Introduction
      1m 14s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 43s
  2. 32m 2s
    1. What is Unix?
      7m 27s
    2. The terminal application
      4m 23s
    3. Logging in and using the command prompt
      5m 19s
    4. Command structure
      5m 22s
    5. Kernel and shells
      5m 25s
    6. Unix manual pages
      4m 6s
  3. 15m 58s
    1. The working directory
      2m 49s
    2. Listing files and directories
      3m 59s
    3. Moving around the filesystem
      4m 58s
    4. Filesystem organization
      4m 12s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. Naming files
      5m 41s
    2. Creating files
      2m 19s
    3. Unix text editors
      6m 39s
    4. Reading files
      5m 35s
    5. Reading portions of files
      3m 27s
    6. Creating directories
      2m 40s
    7. Moving and renaming files and directories
      8m 32s
    8. Copying files and directories
      3m 7s
    9. Deleting files and directories
      3m 38s
    10. Finder aliases in Unix
      4m 10s
    11. Hard links
      5m 30s
    12. Symbolic links
      6m 36s
    13. Searching for files and directories
      6m 32s
  5. 34m 58s
    1. Who am I?
      4m 3s
    2. Unix groups
      1m 52s
    3. File and directory ownership
      6m 41s
    4. File and directory permissions
      4m 27s
    5. Setting permissions using alpha notation
      6m 49s
    6. Setting permissions using octal notation
      3m 49s
    7. The root user
      1m 57s
    8. sudo and sudoers
      5m 20s
  6. 52m 34s
    1. Command basics
      4m 4s
    2. The PATH variable
      4m 13s
    3. System information commands
      3m 40s
    4. Disk information commands
      6m 8s
    5. Viewing processes
      5m 0s
    6. Monitoring processes
      3m 36s
    7. Stopping processes
      3m 19s
    8. Text file helpers
      6m 50s
    9. Utility programs
      7m 28s
    10. Using the command history
      8m 16s
  7. 20m 39s
    1. Standard input and standard output
      1m 24s
    2. Directing output to a file
      4m 13s
    3. Appending to a file
      2m 44s
    4. Directing input from a file
      5m 28s
    5. Piping output to input
      4m 40s
    6. Suppressing output
      2m 10s
  8. 41m 28s
    1. Profile, login, and resource files
      9m 11s
    2. Setting command aliases
      6m 59s
    3. Setting and exporting environment variables
      4m 54s
    4. Setting the PATH variable
      6m 10s
    5. Configuring history with variables
      6m 17s
    6. Customizing the command prompt
      6m 5s
    7. Logout file
      1m 52s
  9. 1h 25m
    1. grep: Searching for matching expressions
      5m 21s
    2. grep: Multiple files, other input
      4m 28s
    3. grep: Coloring matched text
      2m 57s
    4. Introduction to regular expressions
      3m 22s
    5. Regular expressions: Basic syntax
      3m 19s
    6. Using regular expressions with grep
      5m 20s
    7. tr: Translating characters
      8m 17s
    8. tr: Deleting and squeezing characters
      5m 30s
    9. sed: Stream editor
      7m 45s
    10. sed: Regular expressions and back-references
      7m 8s
    11. cut: Cutting select text portions
      7m 42s
    12. diff: Comparing files
      4m 35s
    13. diff: Alternative formats
      4m 30s
    14. xargs: Passing argument lists to commands
      7m 25s
    15. xargs: Usage examples
      7m 59s
  10. 42m 25s
    1. Finder integration
      4m 45s
    2. Clipboard integration
      5m 5s
    3. Screen capture
      3m 42s
    4. Shut down, reboot, and sleep
      3m 34s
    5. Text to speech
      2m 36s
    6. Spotlight integration: Searching metadata
      3m 41s
    7. Spotlight integration: Metadata attributes
      4m 24s
    8. Using AppleScript
      5m 23s
    9. System configurations: Viewing and setting
      5m 51s
    10. System configurations: Examples
      3m 24s
  11. 1m 26s
    1. Conclusion
      1m 26s

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