20. August 2018 · Comments Off on Fast Delete Complex Directories · Categories: Batch Files, Command-line Tools, Windows
Last updated on 03/02/2024

Normally, deleting directories is fairly quick if they contain a modest number of sub-directories and files. But when directories have complex structures, consisting of hundreds or thousands of sub-directories and files, it may take several minutes or even hours to delete them. The command line, with less overhead, can delete complex directories in a fraction of that time, sometimes quoted as being 20 times or more faster than the traditional explorer option. This guide demonstrates how to automate deleting large directories using batch files or directly from the command line using native Windows commands and tools, and with selected freeware GUI deletion programs that include a command line option. An additional section tests and compares the deletion speeds of the various deletion tools covered in this guide.The emphasis of this guide is on the quick deletion methods and not on secure or permanent deletion methods that are used to make files unrecoverable. Secure deletion methods are another topic and are necessarily slower since they involve overwriting files, often using several passes.


Explorer can be extremely slow when deleting directories because it calculates the folder size, the number of items in the folder, and the estimated completion time before processing, and reports on the items deleted, remaining deletions, current deletions, and while monitoring and reporting on any conflicts during processing. These processes are still in effect even when the recycle bin is emptied or when files and folders are deleted directly using Shift+Del. Using the command line eliminates this overhead, resulting in a faster deletion process. Keep in mind that faster means relative to the standard deletion process, so deleting several Gigabytes of files and directories may still take a significant amount of time. For example, tests performed by a SuperUser member found that it took an average of 53 minutes to delete 28.3 GB consisting of 1,159,211 files in 146,918 folders using the fastest command line method tested (a combination of the DEL and RMDIR commands). If files and folders are to be deleted on a regular basis, probably the fastest method is to save them to a dedicated partition and then format that partition to delete everything.


Although the RMDIR command can remove a directory and its files, it’s significantly slower than using the DEL and RMDIR commands in a two-step process. The DEL command deletes the files, and the RMDIR command deletes the directory structure.

del /f/q/s "%folder%" >nul

Acts as a first pass to delete files and outputs to nul to avoid the overhead of writing to the screen

rmdir /q/s "%folder%"

2nd pass that removes the directory structure

  • /f – Force delete read-only files
  • /q – Quiet mode, do not ask to delete
  • /s – Include subdirectories


Another method for deleting folder files is RoboCopy. A destination folder is mirrored from an empty source directory, which forces RoboCopy to delete any files not in the source directory.

The main command for RoboCopy to delete all files in the destination directory:

robocopy "EmptyDir" "DestinationDir" /MIR /ETA

  • /MIR – Mirror a directory
  • /W:0 – Sets wait time between retries to zero secs
  • /R:0 – Sets number of retries on failed copies to zero secs

RoboCopy works with directories and sets of files within directories as opposed to individual files. In the example batch files using RoboCopy, RMDIR is still used to remove the temporary empty directory and the parent destination directory, and DEL is used for deleting files.

Using Batch Files

Batch files, including the example files below, may be used from the command line (with parameters), from the send-to directory, the right-click context menu, or by drag and drop (the easiest method).

Command line

The batch files may be executed from a Windows command prompt with parameters, or added to the environmental path for convenience.

To execute from a command prompt, open a new cmd prompt, navigate to the batch file’s location and enter its full name, or enter the batch file’s full path. Be sure to add the directories and/or files to delete as parameters. Also include quotes around any file paths with spaces:

Ex. “C:\Program Files\delete_file_folder_fast_simple_v2.bat” “C:\Folder or file to delete”

Separate multiple parameters with a space between parameters.

Adding a batch file’s folder to the Windows environment variable allows it to be available from any cmd prompt without navigating to the batch file’s location or typing its full path. To add a batch file’s path to the Windows environment use:

start–> Control Panel–> System–> Advanced system settings–> Advanced Tab–> Environment Variables–> System Variables–> Path–> Edit.

Add the path e.g., ;C:\path to the batchfile; to the end (don’t forget the single semicolons at the beginning and end). Hit OK three times.

Right-click Context Menu

This option allows the user to right-click a folder and select the batch file from the pop-up menu. The steps to enable this are:

  1. Press the WINDOWS KEY + R to open the Run dialog box
  2. Enter regedit and press ENTER
  3. Navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\
  4. Right-click on the yellow shell key. Select New > Key
  5. Enter a name: Delete &Fast then press ENTER
  6. Right-click on the Delete &Fast folder created, and select New > Key
  7. Enter “command” and press ENTER.
  8. Left-click on the yellow command key created. Double-click the (Default) entry.
  9. In the Value Data field, enter the batch file to use, e.g., cmd /c \”C:\\Path to\\delete_file_folder_fast_simple_v2.bat\” %1″ then press OK

Another way to accomplish the above is to use a reg file. Copy the code below, paste it into a file editor and save it as “Delete Fast.reg”. Double click the file to merge its contents to the registry and the right-click menu is ready to use.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\Delete &Fast\command]
@="cmd /c \"C:\\Path to\\delete_file_folder_fast_simple_v2.bat\" %1"

Send to Directory

Another option is the Send to directory, Just create a shortcut and add it to the appropriate directory:

For newer versions of Windows, the send to directory is located at:


For XP, the location is:

C:\Documents and Settings\<yourusername>\SendTo

To use, right click a file or directory and select the batch file from the Send to menu.

Drag and Drop

The easiest way to use the example batch files is to just drag and drop folders or files onto them. No files or folders will be deleted without user confirmation.

Differences in the Example Batch Files

delete_files_folders_fast_v2.bat – lists multiple files and folders to be deleted, the parent directory, limited folder/file attributes, and limited information on the names and numbers of files and folders deleted. Also includes a delayed exit, allowing the files and folders deletion information to be reviewed before the window closes (default 10 seconds).

delete_file_folder_fast_simple_v2.bat – limited to deleting one file or one folder at a time. Doesn’t provide much interaction or feedback except to ask  the user if they actually want to delete the displayed file or folder. Automatically exits after deleting the file or folder.

delete_files_folders_fast_robocopy_v3.bat – essentially the same as delete_file_folder_fast_simple_v2.bat except that RoboCopy’s output is displayed during execution and after processing files. The batch file is paused after execution allowing the user to view the results without automatically exiting. Updated 01-29-20.

delete_files_folders_fast_robocopy_silent_v3.bat – essentially the same as above except that RoboCopy’s output is NOT displayed for faster execution and processing. The batch file automatically exits after a delay of 10 seconds. Added 01-29-20.

delete_file_folder_fast_simple_robocopy_v2.bat – limited to deleting one file or one folder at a time.Uses RoboCopy instead of DEL for deleting folder contents. RoboCopy output is redirected to nul to eliminate command output. Automatically exits after deleting the file or folder.

delete_file_folder_fast_byenow_v1.bat – uses command line program byenow to delete a folder and all of its files and subdirectories.Uses byenow’s default settings. Batch file pauses on completion.

delete_file_folder_fast_byenow_ntapi_v1.bat – uses command line program byenow to delete a folder and all of its files and subdirectories. Same as previous batch file but uses –delete-ntapi option. Batch file pauses on completion.

The batch files may be renamed and will work identically.

Example Batch Files using DEL, RMDIR, and RoboCopy

Left-click to view the file in the current window, or use right-click and “Save Link As” to download.The batch files are changed from the previous versions as the /S switch greatly slowed performance when deleting individual files. The /S switch is still used, but only for folders.
Note: Remove the “.txt” extension before using.

The batch files below use only the RMDIR and DEL commands.

  delete_files_folders_fast_v2.bat (4.0 KiB, 3,255 hits)

  delete_file_folder_fast_simple_v2.bat (1.2 KiB, 2,050 hits)

The below batch files use RoboCopy to delete folder files, RMDIR to delete  empty folders, and DEL to delete individual files. If RoboCopy is installed but not included in the Windows environment path, be sure to change the path for RoboCopy for your system in the batch file (don’t forget to remove the REM to enable it). No changes to the batch files are required if RoboCopy is already installed and included in the path. To check, type “robocopy: in a command prompt. If RoboCopy executes, it’s already installed and included in the environment path.

  delete_files_folders_fast_robocopy_v3.bat (4.6 KiB, 2,265 hits)

  delete_files_folders_fast_robocopy_silent_v3.bat (5.1 KiB, 2,051 hits)

  delete_file_folder_fast_simple_robocopy_v2.bat (1.7 KiB, 2,381 hits)

Freeware Deletion Tools

A number of GUI and command line file and folder deletion tools are available, but most focus on secure deletions and don’t provide an option for standard deletions. The freeware utilities below are able to perform both standard and secure deletions from the GUI and from the command line.

These GUI-based tools work from the command line either through the main executable for by using separate command line executables. The advantage of using these tools rather than using native windows commands like RMDIR and DEL is that it’s easier to configure complex deletion options such as deleting files or folders based on modification or creation date, size, or type, as well as to write logs, send the process to background, set automatic system shutdowns, exclude/include specific files and folders, stop on errors, and set many other options using  a single command line.


FastCopy is a copy/backup utility that can also perform standard and limited secure deletions on individual files and folders. It can be installed as a regular program or as a portable application by selecting extract during installation. The program executable also accepts commands from the command line.

Files and folders can be dropped and dragged onto the interface to set the source or destination directories. From the Options menu, the program can be configured to install shell extensions to enable FastCopy to delete, copy, or move files/folders by using the right click menu in Windows Explorer.

FastCopy Main Interface

FastCopy Interface

FastCopy Delete Options

FastCopy Delete Options

FastCopy Shell Extension Options

FastCopy Shell Extension Options

FastCopy Command line and Batch File

A listing of FastCopy’s command line options can be found online help page and in the application’s help file. The below batch file is configured to delete files and folders using drag and drop with two options: (1) Do NOT ask for confirmation before deleting and disable logging, and (2) Ask for confirmation before deleting and enable logging. The batch file pauses after execution. The batch file is configured to use a portable installation.

The breakdown of the first FastCopy command line (no confirmation, no logging):

FastCopy.exe /cmd=delete /no_confirm_del /log=FALSE /auto_close %*

  • /cmd=delete – delete command
  • /no_confirm_del – Don’t confirm before deleting
  • /log=FALSE – Disable write operation/errors information to the logfile
  • /auto_close – Close automatically after execution is finished with no errors
  • %* – All dragged and dropped files and folders

Example Batch File for FastCopy (remove .txt extension before using):

  Fastcopy_delete_file_folders_v1.bat (1.7 KiB, 1,575 hits)

Fast Folder Eraser Pro

Fast Folder Eraser Pro is an installed freeware program. It can perform both standard and secure deletions both from the command line or from the GUI interface. The standalone command line executables are located in the command-line folder which contains two CLI executables, a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version.

This is a utility specifically designed to delete directories and the sub-folders and files within them. Unlike FastCopy, it’s unable to delete individual files by filename, but it’s able to delete individual or groups of files based on size, dates, and other filters, and it can exclude files using wildcards. Although folders and files can be directly dragged and dropped onto the GUI interface for deletion, testing revealed that when a file was dropped on the GUI, the program also deleted every other file and folder within the same directory as the dropped file. There were no issues with folders dropped onto the GUI or deleted using the CLI executable. The CLI executable is unable to delete individual files and generates an error if an individual file path is used with the delete command.

Compared to FastCopy, the number of command line options is limited. For example, no option exists to enable or disable confirmation before deleting a file, so a confirmation option must be programmed into the batch script using Windows commands to obtain this functionality.


Fast Folder Eraser Pro Interface

Fast Folder Eraser Pro Interface

Fast Folder Eraser Pro Delete Options

Fast Folder Eraser Pro Delete Options

Fast Folder Eraser Pro Command line and Batch File

The help file for the standalone CLI executables is located in the command-line folder along with two executables, a 32-bit CLI executable, FFECmd32.exe, and a 64-bit executable, FFECmd64.exe. The batch file below is configured for drag and drop using the 32-bit executable, includes confirmation before deletion, and pauses after execution.. Unlike FastCopy where multiple files and folders can be processed using a single command, the CLI executable in Fast Folder Eraser Pro is able to process only a singe folder at a time. If multiple folders are dragged and dropped onto the batch file, folders after the first are ignored. If a file or multiple files are dropped onto the batch file, the files are not processed.

The breakdown of the Fast Folder Eraser Pro command line as used in the batch file:

FFECmd32.exe /path %* /r /logfail

  • /path %* – absolute path of directory to initiate deletion
  • /r – recurse child directories
  • /logfail – log unsuccessful file deletions to a log file

Example Batch File for Fast Folder Eraser Pro (remove .txt extension before using):

  FastFolderEraserPro_delete_file_folders.bat (903 bytes, 1,461 hits)

byenow Command Line Utility

byenow is a specialized command line tool specifically designed to delete files and directories under a single folder. It uses several strategies not found for other deletion tools to streamline and optimize the deletion process such as: (1) providing essential, but not verbose, processing information, (2) the option to suppress confirmation, (3) using all available CPU cores by default, and (4) the option to use the NtDeleteFile API instead of the standard deletion process (DeleteFile API) to delete files. The NtDeleteFile API is faster because it requires only a single syscall instead of the three syscalls needed by the standard DeleteFile API. byenow also displays the time required for the deletion process upon completion. Below is a summary listing of byenow’s user settable options:

  • preview the number files and folders to be deleted
  • set the number of threads (uses same number of threads as CPU cores by default)
  • suppress confirmation
  • list errors
  • display progress on a single line
  • staged deletion – scan folder 1st and then delete
  • use NtDeleteFile API instead of the default DeleteFile API
byenow options

byenow Options

byenow preview mode

byenow Preview

byenow Command line and Batch File

Because byenow is already optimized for file deletion using its default settings, and its options are settable from the command line, only a basic batch file is needed to launch the program in a command window. Two batch files are provided, one with default settings and the other using the NtDeleteFile API. Because byenow is a command line only program, be sure to set the path for byenow in the batch files.

The breakdown of the byenow command line (with NtDeleteFile API option):

byenow “%~1” –delete-ntapi

  • –delete-ntapi – use NtDeleteFile API instead of DeleteFile API

Example Batch Files for byenow (remove .txt extension before using):

  delete_files_folders_fast_byenow_v1.bat (1.6 KiB, 1,609 hits)

  delete_files_folders_fast_byenow_ntapi_v1.bat (1.6 KiB, 1,492 hits)

Batch File Benchmarks

The batch files were compared by benchmarking them using the standard Windows deletion process as a baseline. Nine identical test directories were created, each comprised of 12255 files in 1599 directories, and totaling 1658MBs. Each batch file was timed using a timer and/or using the logged times where appropriate to measure how long it took them to delete the test directory.

Batch fileResults (min:secs)
Fastcopy_delete_file_folders_v1.bat (confirm)0:37
Fastcopy_delete_file_folders_v1.bat (no confirm)0:40
Windows Standard Deletion to Recycle Bin*1:57

*Time includes 0:40 secs to send the test directory to the Recycle Bin and 1 min and 17 secs to empty the Recycle Bin (0:40 + 1:17 = 1:57).


Most of the command line tools tested were faster than using Windows standard delete, especially when the time needed to empty the Recycle Bin was included. The fastest command line tools were nearly twice as fast as the Windows standard delete process that sends files to the Recycle Bin, and over 4 times faster than Windows when the time needed to empty the Recycle Bin was factored in. Suppressing output and disabling logging helped to improve the performance of the command line tools, but the most significant factor appears to be that all the command line tools directly delete files and don’t use the Recycle Bin. The tests suggest that any program that directly deletes files will automatically seem faster in comparison to the full Windows standard delete process, even when they are actually slower than the time Windows takes just to send deleted files to the Recycle Bin. So while command line tools are  faster than using Windows Explorer for deleting large directories and files, It appears that claims of increased deletion speeds by multiple factors are likely exaggerated, and a more realistic expectation is probably from 2-3 times faster – at least for the freeware tools tested.

The test machine used was a 1.86GHz 32-bit single core laptop with 2GB of RAM. Some of the programs, such as byenow, are designed to take advantage of multiple cores, so results could vary greatly depending on the hardware and OS used. Also, the test directories were not really representative of a “real world” situation as they were actually small, and most users are unlikely to use specialized deletion tools to occasionally delete directories of less than 3-4 GBs. Although useful as a “rough estimate”, a more realistic test scenario might be to test the various batch file commands on machines with upgraded OS and hardware, and using a larger and more complex directory structure of perhaps 50 GBs or more .

Summary of test limitations:
Test on multiple hardware and OS platforms
Use larger and more complex test directories
Test multiple times to compensate for machine state variation

Related Information and References:

Fastest Way to Delete Large Folders in WindowsMatt’s Repository

How to delete huge number of files on WindowsSuperuser

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
19. September 2015 · Comments Off on Create YouTube Playlist Links – No Login Required · Categories: AutoHotKey, Command-line Tools, Video, Windows · Tags: AutoHotKey, scripts
Last updated on 04/11/2020

YouTube playlists are a useful way to watch videos in sequence or for sharing a list of videos with others. However, at times it may be insecure to share playlists created from your personal account or inconvenient to log in into your account to create them. This guide describes how to create playlists in a single link that allows you to view your videos immediately, save them for later, or to share them with others – without logging into your YouTube account.

youtube filmstripA YouTube playlist can be created manually by concatenating the unique videoIDs, separated by commas, to the URL:


A completed playlist will thus look like so:


Just paste the completed link into your browser to start the playlist. A more complete explanation of this process can be found at this blog post: How to Create YouTube Playlists without Logging In.

Creating playlists manually can be inconvenient, so a way to accomplish this automatically with a script was sought. Because the Windows command-line doesn’t easily support the clipboard without 3rd part tools, AutoHotKey was used instead since it can manipulate the clipboard more easily. AutoHotKey version was used for the script and tested on a system running WinXP.

AutoHotKey script: youtube_playlist2.ahk

To use the script, run it to monitor the clipboard for youtube.com/watch, youtube.com/embed/, or youtu.be; text which is used in normal, embedded, or shortened YouTube video links. The script generally ignores any other text, so in most cases, the script can be active and not interfere with normal clipboard activity.

After starting the script, a popup message appears in the system tray to alert the user that the script has started and informs the user that CNTL +Y will create the playlist link and copy it to the clipboard, CNTL + Z exits the script, and that CNTL + ALT + C clears the playlist and clipboard.

Each time a YouTube video link is copied to the clipboard, a Tray tip displays the link that was processed and how many video links in total were copied and processed. Hit OK to continue. Wait 2.5 seconds between selecting videos (when the Tray tip disappears) before selecting another video.

After selecting all your videos, use CNTL + Y to copy the final playlist to the clipboard. Another popup message (screenshot below) will appear. This popup indicates the total number of videos in the playlist, the final playlist link, how to exit the script, and reminds the user that the playlist link has been copied to the clipboard. The playlist link is ready to use by pasting it into a browser or in an email. After hitting OK you can continue adding videos or use CNTL + Z to exit, or CNTL + ALT + C to clear the playlist and clipboard. Other ways to clear everything and start over are to reload the script by right-clicking the script icon in the system tray and selecting “Reload This Script”, or just exit the script and restart.

youtube playlist


The script can be further customized by the user as desired.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
14. March 2015 · Comments Off on Automate mp3 File Concatenation with Windows Command-line Tools · Categories: Audio, Command-line Tools, Windows · Tags: batch files
Last updated on 12/12/2022

Although it requires a bit more technical effort than GUI-based applications, merging mp3 files with the command-line allows for a faster and more complete merging process and more flexibility and customization options. This guide demonstrates how to use a batch file and free Windows command-line tools to concatenate two or more mp3 files, preserve the ID3 metadata, and repair and verify the integrity of the combined file. The information in this guide was tested on system running XP SP3 32-bit and should be similar for other Windows versions.

merging mp3s

Command-line vs GUI tools

Command-line tools generally provide more options than GUI-based tools and that’s especially true for tools working with complex SW such as media files, which can be created with many different types of codecs, containers, and formats. Most GUI-based tools use command-line tools on the back-end, but GUIs are rarely able to incorporate all the possible combinations of complex commands and options of those tools into their designs. It’s difficult to design GUI’s that can accomplish difficult tasks and still be easy to use. Because GUI-based application designs are often driven primarily for ease-of-use and wide appeal, functionality and complexity are necessarily reduced in order to accomplish those goals. Command-line tools are the opposite, they are more difficult to learn and to use, but are generally able to accomplish a wider and more sophisticated range of tasks.


Advantages – faster execution, specialized tasks can be accomplished by executing a single script, flexibility/customization (adding tools, changing options, etc.), free, uses less system resources

Disadvantages– requires coding or understanding code, takes more time and effort to configure, less intuitive


Advantages – quicker learning curve, more intuitive visually and for multitasking, more complete viewing and listing of information, easier switching between commands

Disadvantages – slower execution (additional programs are often required  for processing ID3 tags or to repair VBR headers), requires more system resources (video, drivers, mouse, etc.), limited options for advanced tasks (especially for free versions), limited availability of easy-to-use but highly configurable applicaions

Command-line Tools for this Guide

The command-line tools used in this guide are:

MP3Wrap (ver 0.5) – Wraps two or more mp3 files into a single file. The command-line executable is mp3wrap.exe.

ID3 mass tagger (ver 0.78) – Copies the ID3 tag to the merged file. This is the download link for the older freeware version, which is the version used in this guide. A newer version (1.21.25) is available here for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems, but it non-free shareware. It includes a GUI and a command-line version.

MP3Val (ver 0.1.8) – Validates and fixes MPEG stream, frame, and header errors. Includes both GUI and command-line versions. The command-line executable is mp3val.exe.

Because MP3Wrap strips and replaces the ID3 tags with its own information, ID3 is used to copy the tags from one of the files. MP3Val repairs any errors in the pre-merged files copied into the merged file or produced during the merging process.

Command-line Examples:

Command-line syntax useage for this guide and in the batch script:

Merge Files

The batch file provides an option to use either the Windows command-line or MP3wrap to merge the files.

The command to merge mp3 files with Windows command-line:

copy /b file1.mp3+file2.mp3+file3.mp3 outputfile.mp3

/b = binary file

Command to merge mp3 files with MP3wrap:

mp3wrap outputfile.mp3 file1.mp3 file2.mp3 file3.mp3

additional commands for MP3Wrap (ver 0.5): mp3wrap_cmd_help:

Copy Tags

The command-line syntax to copy the ID3 tags from input file1 to the output file with ID3:

id3.exe -D file1.mp3 outputfile.mp3

-D = duplicate tags from filename

additional commands for ID3 (ver 0.78): id3_078_help

Fix and Validate

Command-line syntax to fix and validate the output file with MP3Val:

mp3val outputfile.mp3 -f -nb -si

-f = try to fix errors

-nb = delete .bak files (suitable with -f)

-si = suppress INFO messages

additional commands for MP3Val (ver 0.1.8): mp3val_cmd_help

Merging mp3 Files: Process


If using the provided batch file (see below), two steps are required.

1. Prepare the mp3 files

Ensure that the mp3 files to be merged have the same frequency, bitrate, and MPEG coding and layering. Otherwise, the output file may contain non-apparent errors, even if no errors were displayed during the merging process.

2. Drag and drop the mp3 files onto the batch file to merge

Drag and drop the mp3 files all at once and in the order to be processed by the batch script. Rename/renumber the files as necessary to obtain the right order.

Batch File Processing Steps:

  1. Display the order of the mp3 files to be processed
  2. Ask the user to select between merging the files with the Windows command-line or MP3Wrap
  3. Merge the mp3 files into a temp file, “temp_MP3WRAP.mp3”
  4. Transfer the ID3 tags from the first mp3 file to the temp file with ID3
  5. Fix and validate the temp file with MP3Val
  6. Rename the temp file to the first mp3 file and append “_merged” to the file name
  7. Exit

Example Batch File:

Ensure that the file extension is changed to “bat” before using.



blogferret.com – id3.exe – ideal tool for tagging and renaming MP3 files

alexenglish.info – Concatenating MP3 Files in Linux

cephas.net – Merge multiples MP3 files into one

ghacks.net – ID3 Mass Tagger

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
02. December 2014 · Comments Off on Formula and Data Protection for Excel Worksheets · Categories: Windows · Tags: MS Office - Excel
This guide demonstrates how to lock cells in Excel worksheets to protect formulas or other data from being changed, while allowing selected cells to remain unlocked. This is useful to prevent accidental changes to the worksheet and to enhance navigability by allowing users to select only the modifiable cells. The information in this guide was tested on a Windows XP system using Microsoft Excel ver. 2003. The steps in this guide should be similar for other versions of Excel. An example worksheet provided for this guide is provided here.

Steps to Protect Excel Worksheets

1. Use the Control or Shift key to select individual cells that are to remain unprotected and modifiable by the user. The screenshot below shows the selected cells in grey. All unselected cells will be protected.

selected cells

2. Right-click over one of the selected cells and select Format Cells… from the right-click menu.

select format cells

3. In the Format Cell dialog that appears, select the Protection Tab and unselect both the Locked and Hidden options and then click OK.

format cells dialog

4. From the application menu, select Tools->Protection->Protect Sheet…

protect worksheet menu

5. In the Protect Sheet Dialog that appears, ensure that Protect worksheet and contents of locked cells a the top and Select unlocked cells from the list are selected and then hit OK.

protect sheet dialog

That’s all there is to it. The Tab key can be used to move between the selectable cells. All other cells are protected. To make changes to the worksheet, select Tools->Protection->Unprotect Sheet…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
22. February 2013 · Comments Off on Copying Directory Structures without Files · Categories: Batch Files, Command-line Tools, Windows · Tags: File Tools, Freeware/Open Source
Last updated on 09/25/2022

Recreating directory structures can be a tedious and error-prone chore, especially if using the right-click method to create multiple structures and folders. This guide describes three methods to easily copy directory structures (without files) in Windows: (1) with the command line, (2) with GUI tools dedicated for that purpose, and (3) by configuring a freeware file manager, FreeCommander, to enable this function.


Copying Directory Structures from the Command-line

For those comfortable with the command-line, two commands that can be used for this purpose are the Xcopy and Robocopy, both of which have tons of options. Although others, such as the FOR command could also be used, Xcopy and Robocopy are by far the most popular tools used for this purpose.


Xcopy is included in systems up to Windows 8. XCOPY stands for extended copy. It’s a more powerful version of copy with additional features that can copy files, directories, and whole drives. Note that although Xcopy is included with most versions of Windows, it has been deprecated in favor of RoboCopy.

To use Xcopy to clone a directory without files, use the following syntax:

xcopy /t /e "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder"

/t = Copies the subdirectory structure, but not the files

/e = Copies subdirectories, including any empty ones

When using Xcopy with the above switches, you may be asked to specify whether the target is a directory or a file before the Xcopy command executes, but if the command is executed from a batch file, no user interaction is required.

Note: Xcopy doesn’t display any progress or completed operations information when executed. If the target directory doesn’t exist, it will be created.

Additional Xcopy commands can be found here.


Robocopy stands for “Robust file copy.” It’s a standard feature for Windows starting with Vista. It’s can also be installed in WinXP as part of the Windows Resource Kit.

To use Robocopy to clone a directory without files, use the following syntax:

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf *

same as above but without displaying the status:

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf * >nul

same as first example and creates a log (overwrites existing log):

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf * /log:yourlogfile.log

same as first example and appends to log (appends to existing log):

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf * /log+:yourlogfile.log

Copy only the top level sub-folders (sub-folders in the source directory)

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /LEV:2 /xf *

/e = Copies subdirectories, including empty ones.

/LEV: n = Copy only the n LEVels of the source. For n=2, only the top level sub-folders will be copied

/xf = Excludes files matching the specified names or paths. Wildcards “*” and “?” are accepted

Additional Robocopy commands can be found here.

Note: Robocopy displays progress and completed operations information when executed as shown in the below screenshot. If the target directory doesn’t exist, it will be created.


Download example xcopy and robocopy batch files:

  xcopybatch.bat (582 bytes, 3,469 hits)

  robocopybatch.bat (653 bytes, 2,827 hits)

Note: Remove the .txt extension before using either batch file.


Freeware GUI Tools for copying Directory Structures

Two easy-to-use GUI (graphical user interface) apps dedicated specifically to creating directory structures without files are TreeCopy and Miroirs:

TreeCopy – Portable and freeware. Runs on Win95 to Win8.

treecopy screenshot

Miroirs – Freeware. Requires installation. Runs on XP/Vista/Win7

Miroirs screenshot

xcopy Frontend – Freeware. Portable. Runs on Windows XP or later. Provides an overview of all available parameters and makes it easy to select the needed parameters. Each parameter can be activated by clicking on it. The finished command line can be copied or executed directly.


FreeCommander setup to copy Directory Structures

FreeCommander is a freeware file manager that can be configured to copy directory structures using a customized batch file with the Xcopy and/or Robocopy commands. FreeCommander Ver. 2009.02b was used for this example. These instructions are modified from those provided on the FreeCommander forums.

FreeCommander Instructions

Create a batch file with the following code and save it with any name desired such as “copyFolderStructure_freecommander.bat.” For Xcopy the batch file’s main code consists of:

xcopy %1 %2 /t /e

%1 and %2 are the first and second parameters passed to the batch file (structure to copy and target)
The /t and /e options are the same as above

For Robocopy the batch file’s main code consists of:

robocopy %1 %2 /e /xf *

%1 and %2 are the first and second parameters passed to the batch file (structure to copy and target)
the /e and /xf * options are the same as above


Download example xcopy and robocopy batch files for FreeCommander:

  freecommander_xpcopy.bat (763 bytes, 943 hits)

  freecommander_robocopy.bat (773 bytes, 805 hits)


Note: a pause may be entered at the end of either of the batch files below to keep the command window open for viewing the output. Remove the _.txt extension before using.


From the menu, select Extras->Favorite Tools->Edit or use (SHIFT+CONTROL+Y). Click the image below to enlarge.

freecommander menu

Select none from the left-hand column named Categories, then click once in the Items column.

FreeCommander Tools Configuration

Use the Items:Add to list button that appears above the Items column to create an item, for instance Copy Folder Structure.

Select Seek program by clicking the blue arrow next to the program field to navigate to and select the saved batch file’s (e.g. C:\tools\copyFolderStructure_freecommander_robocopy.bat) full path into the program field.

Enter the following into the parameter field:

"%LeftDir%" "%RightDir%" %Dlg%

The variables, %LeftDir% and %RightDir%, pass the address of the left and right folders to batch file parameters %1 and %2. The %Dlg% variable is optional and may be omitted if desired. It is used to display a Run program window (screenshot below) before actually starting the script to allow the folder names to be verified. It also provides a way for the operation to be cancelled.


If desired, add an icon by using the blue button next to the icon field to navigate to the icon’s location.

Make sure the boxes are checked as in the Define Favorite Tools screenshot above before hitting OK.

Tool Selection
The toolbar now contains an entry for copying Folder Structures. The tool can be selected from the menu with Extras->Favorite Tools->Name of your tool or by using the favorites icon (make sure Extras is enabled in Extras->Settings->View->Toolbar if it’s not visible on the toolbar).

Using FreeCommander

To use, select the structure to copy in FreeCommander’s left pane and select the target directory in the right pane. Select and click your tool from the toolbar or menu as described above. After the Run program dialog appears, click OK to continue.

FreeCommander Select

Xcopy doesn’t provide an option to display progress or completed operations. However, with Robocopy, the output will display the copy operation details as shown below (a pause was used in this batch file):

RoboCopy Output

Robocopy Output

If no errors occur, the folder structure will be copied as in the following screenshot:

FreeCommander copied

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Bad Behavior has blocked 2169 access attempts in the last 7 days.