I use vim a lot, and my area has power failure a lot. So the resultant is I get many *.swp files scattered over my PC.

I want an alias of rm command that removes all files with either .swp, ~, .netrwhist, .log or .bak extensions system wide (or atleast in my home directory). The command should delete the files system wide/home directory even when I am on ~/Desktop.

How can I implement so?

  • How about: find ./ -name \*\~ | xargs /bin/rm Aug 18, 2012 at 16:58
  • Also, if the ~ files bug you, alias ls to ls -B. At least you won't see them. Aug 18, 2012 at 17:00
  • @EmanuelBerg find ./ -name \*\~ | xargs /bin/rm does not works when I am on ~/Desktop and there is any ~ file in home directory. See my question, what I said. Aug 18, 2012 at 17:24
  • 3
    Three words: Uninterruptible power supply. I don't turn on a computer without one.
    – cjm
    Aug 19, 2012 at 6:27
  • 2
    @Santosh, then you need a better UPS. A minimum runtime should be 5 minutes. 8 seconds doesn't even give you time to shut down the computer (as you've obviously noticed).
    – cjm
    Aug 19, 2012 at 15:57

3 Answers 3


This will delete all the files with a name ending in .swp, ~, .netrwhist, .log or .bak anywhere under your home directory. No prompt, no confirmation, no recovery, the files are gone forever.

find ~ -type f \( -name '*.swp' -o -name '*~' -o -name '*.bak' -o -name '.netrwhist' \) -delete

(I purposefully omit *.log because it sounds dangerous, this is not a common extension for temporary files and there are plenty of non-temporary files with that name.)

If your OS isn't Linux, replace -delete by -exec rm {} +.

You should perhaps configure Vim to put its swap files in a single directory by setting the directory option:

set dir=~/tmp/vim-swap-files//,/var/tmp//

Create the directory first. The // at the end makes the swap file name include the directory location of the original file, so that files with the same name in different directories don't cause a crash.

You can do the same thing for backup files with the backupdir option, though it makes a lot less sense.

If you use Emacs, set auto-save-file-name-transforms to point every file to a single directory.

(setq auto-save-file-name-transforms
      '("\\`.*\\'" "~/tmp/emacs-auto-save-files/\\&" t))

If you're targetting vim files specifically, I would recommend you use the backupdir variable. :h backupdir says:

'backupdir' 'bdir'      string  (default for Amiga: ".,t:",
                                 for MS-DOS and Win32: ".,c:/tmp,c:/temp"
                                 for Unix: ".,~/tmp,~/")
                        {not in Vi}
        List of directories for the backup file, separated with commas.
        - The backup file will be created in the first directory in the list
          where this is possible.  The directory must exist, Vim will not
          create it for you.
        [... snip ...]

I use this line in my .vimrc:

set backupdir=~/.vim-tmp,~/.tmp,~/tmp,/var/tmp,/tmp

Also you need to create ~/.vim-tmp directory if it already doesn't exists, because doesn't creates that for you.

  • OK, that's useful. But gedit generates *~ files. Aug 18, 2012 at 17:04

Short Answer Deletes temporals which ends with ~

find . -type f \( -iname "*~" \) -delete

Or others like .swap etc ..

find . -type f \( -iname "*.swp" \) -delete

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