How can I delete a file with special characters from an un-rooted Android device?

I used a web site to download a YouTube video to my mobile phone. The video name contained special characters (emoticons and alike) and the Android browser downloaded the file right away, so I could not rename it.

Now I'm stuck with a file that I cannot delete with the stock file manager of my phone. It is a Wiko device with some shady file manager app. I also tried AndroZip, which is usually more reliable.

However, the file has a size of 0 bytes and I can neither delete, nor rename or move it. I do not get any error message, simply nothing happens. In AndroZip the file does not even show up, so I'm not sure whether the Wiko app cached the file name somewhere and, in fact, it does no longer exist, or if AndroZip cannot display the file due to the special character, even though it exists.

Long story short: The device is not rooted and I want to get rid of that broken file. What can I do without resetting or rooting the entire device? Is there any helpful app that can handle special characters? Is there any safe mode option that would be of use?


3 Answers 3


I converted the file into a 240p MP4, downloaded it using Chrome, and I was able to delete the file using Solid Explorer easily.

I was also able to delete it using Termux. I installed it, enabled Storage permission for it from Settings app, launched it, and used these commands:

cd /sdcard/Download/   #I had downloaded it in Download folder.
rm FILE_NAME           # to type file name, I didn't actually type it. I used Hacker's Keyboard which comes with Tab key for auto-completion. I typed JER and pressed tab key to automatically load the full file name including emoji (which actually renders as a flame in Termux). 

If you wish to keep your default keyboard, Termux provides two more means to use Tab autocompletion. Either use Volume Up + T to send a Tab to the shell, or use Volume Up + Q to display an additional button row on top of your keyboard, which contains frequently used commands such as Esc, Ctrl, Alt and Tab itself.

  • Does Termux require rooting? It looks really promising, if it doesn't. I'll check it out, as soon as I'm home. Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 16:53
  • @user1438038 no, Termux doesn't require root access. Just make sure to give storage permission first before using it and also try Hacker's keyboard or you might not be able to type the full file name at all.
    – Firelord
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 16:56
  • 1
    Worked like a charm. Using Termux, I could easily delete the file. There was no need to enter the entire file name, I simply used the wildcard operator *. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 8:07

I just did it thanks to Firelord's answer: use Termux. Here is how to do it though:

  1. First, type this to be able to use the DIR (pwd) command:

    • To show the current dir, use:

    • To show the current dir's contents, use:

  2. Change the directory to the folder you need to be deleted:

    • to go up one level, use

      cd .. 
    • to go into a directory, use

      cd yourdirnamehere
  3. Browse to the folder where the file you need to be deleted is located, e.g. mine was in /storage/emulated/0/Download

  4. Delete

    • the file using

      rm -rf yourfileorfoldertobedeleted
    • or the whole folder using

      rm -rf *

Just be careful not to delete something essential.


I fixed it by transferring that 0-byte special character file to any /android/data folder and clearing that app's data. Then the files are gone.

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