This article discusses Windows temporary files and is organized into
the following two sections:
- Definition of
- What to Do with Temporary Files
A Windows temporary file is created under the following three
- Windows Desktop applications, such as Write, and multiple document
interface (MDI) applications, such as Excel, create temporary files to
handle necessary user editing.
Because a Desktop application cannot have multiple documents open at
once, it must immediately create a temporary file that allows you to
undo any editing. MDI applications create temporary files only when
necessary (for related editing), rather than for every worksheet that
- When you run an MS-DOS-based standard application with Windows/286,
Windows/286 creates a temporary file (for example, ~PIFCHFA.TMP) so
that it can swap to disk to make room for other applications to use
- When you print from Windows or any Windows-based application with the
spooler enabled, Windows creates temporary files on the hard disk.
Windows spools the print job to the temporary file and then sends it
to the appropriate printer as a background operation.
Note: Microsoft recommends that you have approximately 2 megabytes (MB) of
free disk space available for the creation of temporary files.
What to Do with Temporary Files
A number of files may appear on the hard drive in various directories
beginning with a tilde character (~) and ending with a .TMP extension.
These may be temporary files created by Windows that remain on the hard
drive due to an irregular exit from a Windows session.
Under normal conditions, these files are closed and deleted by Windows when
you quit a Windows session. However, if you quit Windows in an irregular
way (for example, restarting the computer or turning it off during an
active Windows session) the files are not closed or deleted.
The temporary files should be located in a designated subdirectory of their
own. If temporary files appear in the root directory, you may have an
invalid SET TEMP statement. Check for the following conditions:
- Using a text editor, such as Microsoft Windows Notepad, open the
AUTOEXEC.BAT file and make sure it includes a valid SET TEMP statement.
This statement should be similar to the following:
- Note the path that the SET TEMP statement points to and check to ensure
that such a subdirectory does exist. If not, create a subdirectory to
match the SET TEMP statement.
- If the SET TEMP statement is pointing to a RAM drive, make sure the RAM
drive is large enough to hold the temporary files being created.
By ensuring that there is a valid SET TEMP statement and a separate
subdirectory for temporary files, these files can easily be deleted on a
To delete a temporary file, use the following steps:
- Close Windows.
- From the MS-DOS command prompt, change to the TEMP directory.
- Delete any existing .TMP files. Make sure Windows is not running at the
time these files are deleted. Some of these .TMP files may be files that
Windows is using.