Layers that will not purge

Sometimes while using AutoCAD, you want to delete a layer, but even after removing all entities from the layer in question, it will not purge. Hopefully the following troubleshooting will help.

There are really only two causes. An entity is referencing the layer you are trying to delete, or it’s a corrupt drawing. Look for entities in these places:

  • Block definitions
  • Empty text strings
  • Viewports with frozen layers

Depending on the version of AutoCAD and 3rd party applications that you have:

  • If you have Express Tools, use the Layer Merge command to merge entities from the mystery layer onto layer 0 (zero).
  • Go to and take a look at SuperPurge. This tool will delete any referenced item using it’s hard purge method. This low cost tool is well worth it’s price.
  • Find the entities that are referencing the layer you wish to delete and delete those entities, or move them to another layer.
    • Use BEDIT or REFEDIT to check your block definitions.
    • Turn on QTEXTMODE in order to see empty text strings.
    • If you have viewports, switch to each and make sure the layer isn’t frozen.

If none of these work, you may have a corrupt drawing. Try using WBLOCK to create a new drawing.


  1. Pianomaker

    A “Sleight-of-Hand” Trick for Un-Purge-able entities.
    On the subject of purging unwanted and (seemingly) “unpurgeable” Layers (and DimStyles, and Linetypes, and TextStyles…
    I know that this regularly comes up in postings – and it just came up in my office again. I’ve even written and posted previously about it, myself. (See Cadaylst Tips & Tricks, v.12, No.5, February 5, 2007).
    However, I have a (very) low-tech trick which might help when all else fails (or deadlines constrain…).
    Sometimes the best way to purge an unwanted/unneeded/but-unpurgeable layer (etc.) is to purge something else – something you “can” purge.
    What I’m really suggesting is that RENAME-is-your-friend (with a little help from CHANGE or PROPERTIES).
    1. CHANGE the PROPERTIES of objects on a layer you always have (like “A-GRID”) so that they now reside of one of your “unpurgeable” layers.
    2. PURGE that (now) unused “typical” layer out of your drawing.
    3. RENAME the “unpurgeable” layer to the name of the just purged “typical” layer. (Don’t forget to change Linetype, Color, etc.).
    Your layer list is now reduced by one – Yes?
    This same technique works (in general) with Linetypes, Dimstyles, and TextStyles too. Of course, MTEXT sometimes gets a little “sticky” – and you’ll (generally) need to redefine some TextStyles as well as re-name them…. (Just ’cause the TextStyle is named “SIMPLEX” don’t mean it calls the SIMPLEX font…)
    In all honesty, this is more of a “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t” kind of trick than a real fix. If the problem is unneeded layers (linetypes, dimstyles, textstyles) contained in a block, well, the next time you do an “INSERT =”,… they’ll be back!
    Still, sometimes “hiding” stuff is quicker (and easier) than removing stuff.

  2. Anonymous

    Also LAYDEL works pretty good sumtimes…not always. Just make sure nothing you wanted in the drawing is on that layer cause LAYDEL deletes EVERYTHING on that lay aswell as the layer. And a tip on using the “sleight-of-hand” method: Use LAYMRG (Layer Merge) when transfering everything over to the other layer, it will save you alot of time over doing it one by one.
    Take’r Easy and Happy Holidays

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