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Permanently deletes data from disk. All types of geographic data supported by ArcGIS, as well as toolboxes and workspaces (folders, geodatabases), can be deleted. If the specified item is a workspace, all contained items are also deleted.


  • Data currently in use in another ArcGIS application cannot be deleted—the tool fails with ERROR 000464.

  • Deleting a shapefile also deletes ancillary files such as the metadata, projection, and index files.

  • Deleting a folder moves the folder to the system Recycle Bin, where it can be restored or permanently deleted.

  • Deleting a Utility Network demotes all the feature classes in the Utility Network to simple feature types; Edge feature classes become line feature classes; and junction feature classes become point feature classes. Deleting the network also deletes all the related network tables and the orphan junction feature class from the geodatabase.

  • Feature classes and tables participating in a network analysis dataset or a topology cannot be deleted.

  • Deleting a mosaic dataset will only delete the mosaic dataset itself. To delete a mosaic dataset in its entirety, including any of the tables within the database and, optionally, any overviews or caches created with it use the Delete Mosaic Dataset tool.

  • Deleting a database connection file does not delete the enterprise database. A database connection file is simply a shortcut to the database.

  • Deleting a relationship class deletes the row corresponding to that relationship from the relationship table.

  • The Delete tool can be used to delete the in_memory workspace. When the in_memory workspace is deleted, all datasets in the workspace are deleted, but the in_memory workspace remains, allowing you to continue writing to it.


Delete_management (in_data, {data_type})
ParameterExplanationData Type

The input data to be deleted.

Data Element; Graph; Layer; Table View; Utility Network

Data type of the Input Data Element. Data type is displayed for informational purposes and cannot be changed.


Code sample

Delete example (Python window)

The following Python window script demonstrates how to use the Delete function in immediate mode.

import arcpy
arcpy.env.workspace = "C:/data"
arcpy.Copy_management("majorrds.shp", "majorrdsCopy.shp")
Delete example 2 (stand-alone script)

The following Python script demonstrates how to use the Delete function in a stand-alone script.

# Name:
# Description: Delete majorrdsCopy.shp 

# Import system modules
import arcpy

# Set workspace
arcpy.env.workspace = "C:/data"

# Set local variables
in_data0 =  "majorrds.shp"
out_data =  "majorrdscopy.shp"

# Execute Copy
arcpy.Copy_management(in_data, out_data)

# Execute Delete


This tool does not use any geoprocessing environments.

Licensing information

  • ArcGIS Desktop Basic: Yes
  • ArcGIS Desktop Standard: Yes
  • ArcGIS Desktop Advanced: Yes

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