In my PowerShell script I'm trying to delete a folder, but only if it exists:

if (Test-Path $folder) { Remove-Item $folder -Recurse; }

I find myself repeating this combination of cmdlets quite a few times, and wished I had something like this:

# Pseudo code:
Remove-Item $folder -Recurse -IgnoreNonExistentPaths

Is there a way to do something like that? A different command, or an option I've missed from the Remove-Item documentation perhaps? Or is the only way to DRY out this bit of code to write my own cmdlet that combines Test-Path and Remove-Item?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You may be looking for alias. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast May 11 '15 at 9:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mast, an alias is just an alternative name for a command. You can't specify parameters or anything in an alias definition. \$\endgroup\$ – Dangph May 12 '15 at 0:53

I assume you're just trying to avoid the error message in case it doesn't exist.

What if you just ignore it:

Remove-Item $folder -Recurse -ErrorAction Ignore

If that's not what you want, I would recommend writing your own function:

function Remove-ItemSafely {
    $Path ,


    Process {
        foreach($p in $Path) {
            if(Test-Path $p) {
                Remove-Item $p -Recurse:$Recurse -WhatIf:$WhatIfPreference
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ -ErrorAction Ignore would also ignore security errors. \$\endgroup\$ – jpmc26 Sep 7 '18 at 19:55

It is better to use pipeline syntax. If there are no files, then nothing will happen:

Get-ChildItem $folder -Recurse | Remove-Item
  • \$\begingroup\$ The -Recurse should be on Remove-Item if you want it to work correctly, otherwise the directories won't be deleted unless they have no files inside. Even that way though, this won't delete $folder, only its contents, so it's good but subtly different. \$\endgroup\$ – briantist Feb 8 '18 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ does not delete an empty $folder \$\endgroup\$ – arberg Jun 15 '18 at 12:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sorting the items by full path and then reversing the list would ensure that children get deleted before their parents, preventing nasty "Are you sure?" prompts. \$\endgroup\$ – jpmc26 Sep 7 '18 at 19:57

This will delete an empty folder as well and still propagates errors if files cannot be deleted

Get-childItem .idea\caches -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue  | Remove-Item -Recurse

The most correct option for exceptions would be the if (test-path $p) { rm $p } version


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