I'm a teacher and I have a lot of files (hundreds) with different names in different directories *for example "religion guide.docx","natural sciences guide.pdf" ,"Algebra 2 Guide.pdf". I intend to leave only the math and physics and delete the rest but in batches, how do I make MMA allow me to choose the directory with which I want to operate and make a database with keywords of things that I want to delete something like,this is a possible example: $Delete [ *religion*.* , *naturales*.* etc]$ Hope it's understandable

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I strongly recommend saving your files in a different folder before experimenting with deleting files in Mathematica. From what I understood you need FileNames and DeleteFile. From the documentation of those functions it is kind of straight forward, $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ But as would be the structure of the program that does the deletion, I am a beginner in MMA. I have seen several posts but I have not seen one with these requirements $\endgroup$
    – Pamela
    Nov 16, 2022 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ There is not much knowledge of MMA that is required beyond what the Details section shows. Here is a step by step guide. Step 1 : Go to the location of the folder using whatever file explorer you use on your computer. Step 2: Make a copy of that folder and put it somewhere else as a backup in case something goes wrong. Step 3: Copy the location of that folder (not the folder itself nor the name. The whole string/path for the folder). The location of that folder will be called home\docfolder in the following. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ Step 4 go on Mathematica and set a variable named folder, for example, to folder="home\docfolder". Step 5 : Look for all files with naturales in it using notWanted=FileNames["*naturales*",folder]. Check that the list is not empty and contains the files you expect. Step 6: Again please be careful and either save a backup of the folder or make a practice folder with 3 files. You can delete the entire list of files in notWanted by using DeleteFile[notWanted]. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ You might also want to change the option for IgnoreCase depending on whether you want to treat uppercase and lowercase letters the same way or not. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


Here is how I might approach it. I would make a list of directories to look in.

dirsToClean = {"C:\\Users\\rpotter\\Downloads", 
  "C:\\Users\\rpotter\\Documents", "C:\\Users\\rpotter\\Desktop"};

Then I would make a list of keywords.

keywords = {"test", "temp",".tmp"};

And add wildcards to either side of the keywords.

keywordsWC = "*" <> # <> "*" & /@ keywords
(*{"*test*", "*temp*", "*.tmp*"}*)

Now I can search for those files.

filesToDelete = FileNames[keywordsWC, dirsToClean, IgnoreCase -> True] (*Or False as desired*)

If everything looks good we can delete them.


But maybe before deleting them we move them to a folder so we can look through them first.

     FileNameSplit[#][[-1]]}]] & /@ filesToDelete

And then just delete all the files in that directory.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hi, there might be a typo it should be DeleteFile rather than FileDelete. Also keywords2 is not defined in the post. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Fixed in above. $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2022 at 20:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you, I will try to do something with the contribution of all of you, $\endgroup$
    – Pamela
    Nov 17, 2022 at 23:15

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