How to delete Stubborn layers from AutoCAD drawing

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In an AutoCAD drawing, there are some stubborn layers that won’t purge no matter what you try, even on seemingly empty layers with no object on them if you try PURGE you won’t be able to delete them.

To get rid of these stubborn layers and to clean your drawing from unused layers you can use LAYDEL and LAYMRG commands.

Using these commands you can even delete Defpoints layer, but I won’t recommend that.

LAYDEL Command:

This command deletes all objects of a layer and purges the layer no matter what you have on that layer. Even the most stubborn layers are also deleted with this command.

To use this command type LAYDEL on the command line and press enter, your command line will show this message.

laydel command

Select an object on the layer which you want to delete from drawing area and press Enter then select Yes from command line options and press enter again.

All objects of the selected layer will be deleted and the layer will also be purged. If the layer has no objects then you can select Name option from the command line as shown in the image above and select the layer which you want to delete from the list of layers.

If you delete a layer which contains an object from a block then it will delete that object from block too and the block will be redefined accordingly.

In the example below, I have a block shown in image A below with a rectangle on red layer. If we delete the red layer from the drawing the rectangle from the block will also be deleted and the block will be redefined as shown in the image B below.

cannot delete layer from autocad

As you can see from the example above, it is likely to accidently delete objects from drawings using this command so always use it with caution.

LAYMRG Command:

You can use this command if you want to delete a layer and also preserve objects on it.

This command will merge source layer with the target layer such that source layer is purged and objects on source layer are assigned to target layer. All the objects on source layer will acquire layer properties of target layer after using LAYMRG.

laymrg command

In the example below, we have three geometries on three different layers. let’s assume that we want to merge layer red with layer green so that all objects of the red layer will get shifted to the green layer.

Type LAYMRG on the command line and press enter, click on the red object from the drawing and press enter then click on the green object from the drawing area and press enter again. Select Yes from the options of the command line to accept the changes and exit the command.

You will notice that the red layer will be deleted from the drawing and all objects of the red layer will be transferred to the green layer as shown in the image below.

delete stubborn layers from AutoCAD

In this case too if an object is part of a block then the block will be redefined to take new properties of assigned layer. Here also try to exercise caution while using this command to avoid accidental loss of data from your drawing.

Do you have questions related to this tip? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. This will only happen if the block is deleted and purged from the drawing. A block will come in just like the one present in the drawing, unless you choose to “Redefine” block at insertion. This is also true for any modification you make to a block in Block Editor.

    1. In both of the cases the Layer will completely disappear from the drawing and the blocks will be redefined. If you have used LAYDEL then the redefined block will not have object of the purged layer but if you have used LAYMRG then the block object will change layer and inherit properties of newly assigned layer.

      Also inserting a new instance of block will only insert a redefined block in either of the cases.

  2. Does the merge command work if someone has placed elements on the offending layer in a block but the block has not been inserted into the drawing?

    1. If your block contains an object which is on a layer which you want to merge with other layer in such a way that block is not present in the drawing then also LAYMRG will remove the layer and replace it with target layer. When you insert the block it will still contain object from deleted layer but now it will be placed on target layer and it will inherit properties of target layer too.

  3. I really enjoy reading your posts although the vast majority is stuff I already know. This is new to me and I can already see that it will be very useful. Thank you and please continue to write.

  4. Another method for this is to use the ERASE command. Start the ERASE command, type “ALL” and then deselect everything in the drawing that you wish to keep. “ENTER” and then review the command line to see how many objects were deleted. Then begin the purge command. This will eliminate any risk of deleting layers that contain needed blocks. Of course, “OOPS” and undo are always there if you see an issue.

    Unless your CAD group requires specific layers, this is what I found to be the most efficient way and quickest way for us to get rid of everything except what’s physically visible on the drawing. And greatly reduces file size. (Customer drawings tend to have years worth of invisible information)

    We typically don’t have any hidden layers or information to retain, so this method is a little case specific.

    1. That seems like a long but safe method of moving with drawing cleanup but I believe it too has its limitations I have observed and probably you too must have observed that many layers are so stubborn that you wont be able to delete them using purge even when they have no visible or hidden entities assigned to them. So I believe for these limited yet crucial scenarios you can try using LAYDEL or LAYMRG.

  5. Hello, be careful with this command if “blocks” are set on the layer to remove there may be loss of information, certainly there is a message but everyone does not read the messages.

  6. Nice tutorial, the LAYMRG command has been very useful for me, sometimes when I have to use elements of one of my drawings with someone else’s I end up with two layers for the same thing like notes or dimensions; maybe one is DIMS and the other is DIMENSIONS, I merge them and cause their dimensions to be on my layer.

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