Deleting files on Windows that have names which are too long

Posted on February 6th, 2014 in Hardware & Software by andrija

Did you try to make a backup of your Steam games and ended up with a folder which name is so long that windows is unable to do anything with it? You can’t go into the folder, you can’t delete it or do pretty much anything with it? It turns out that Steam likes to do this if you select too “many” games to back up at the same time. A rather nasty bug. There’s a way to delete it without having to boot Linux or use non-free tools.

Open command line, go to the folder containing the file with the too-long filename and type dir /x. This will list directory content along with short filename versions. E.g. here is one of the lines this command might output:

08/05/2013  12:31 PM            80,216 QUICKT~2.EXE QuickTimeInstallerAdmin.exe

People who used DOS or older Windows will recognize this as the “good old” 8.3 filename format. The full file name is QuickTimeInstallerAdmin.exe and its short name is  QUICKT~2.EXE . Now simply type something like del quickt~2.exe and your file will be deleted. If it was a directory – which will be the case if you did a Steam backup – then type rmdir /s quickt~2.exe instead.