As we know, to remove files we can use this safe option

  find /path/to/directory/ -mindepth 1 -mtime +5 -delete

What if we want to remove both folders and files under /path/to/directory/ folder; what should be the syntax?

The delete option can't remove folders that are not empty.

 find /var/tmp -type d -mindepth 1 -mtime +5 -delete
 find: warning: you have specified the -mindepth option after a non-option    argument -type, but options are not positional (-mindepth affects tests   specified before it as well as those specified after it).  Please specify  options before other arguments.

 find: cannot delete `/var/tmp/foreman-ssh-cmd-1b987fef-10ca-4204-bf4b-441f28a3db07': Directory not empty
 find: cannot delete `/var/tmp/foreman-ssh-cmd-2687d337-2b60-4f20-b581-a70807c22cb9': Directory not empty
 find: cannot delete `/var/tmp/foreman-ssh-cmd-faedbb3a-7756-4c96-8a40-a4a2001b5fb3': Directory not empty

1 Answer 1


You have not used any -type option, so find will remove (-delete) everything that is matched by conditions provided (precisely -mindepth 1 -mtime +5 here), whether it is file or directory (if empty) or anything else.

If you want to remove empty directories only:

find /path/to/directory/ -mindepth 1 -type d -mtime +5 -delete

Just to note, it is better to have a look at the files to be removed before actually doing the removal, drop the -delete:

find /path/to/directory/ -mindepth 1-type d -mtime +5

For the sake of completeness, if you want to search for only files and directories, insert an OR construct in find:

find /path/to/directory/ -mindepth 1 \( -type f -o -type d \) -mtime +5 

If you want to remove the directories that are not empty as well, use rm inside the -exec action:

find /path/to/directory/ -mindepth 1 \( -type f -o -type d \) -mtime +5 -exec rm -r {} +

Add -f with rm if needed.

  • can we remove the option - -mindepth 1 , and what this option mean ?
    – yael
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 6:27
  • @yael You should not remove that, otherwise the $PWD will be matched (current directory: .), -mindepth 1 prevents that.
    – heemayl
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 6:28
  • see my update the delete option cant remove folder that not empty , how to resolve this
    – yael
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 6:40
  • @yael Check my edits.
    – heemayl
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 6:44
  • 1
    @F.Hauri I didn't say anything about that. Note that the question you linked to concerns comments in response to an answer, not comments in response to a comment. On Unix.SE we commonly respond to comments with a comment, not just a comment upvote, in particular so that the commenter is notified. Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 7:42

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