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find - file search utility

Find is a very powerful GNU utility to find and work with files and directories. It traverses the directory tree and can search for specific elements and also delete them or give them to another command.

This should explain the general use and give some examples. Not all possibilities are explained here, use the man page for more details.

Info

Usage: find [-L] [<path>...] [<expression>...]

If no path is given the current directory . is used to start the search.

The option -L will follow symbolic links and analyze the linked node instead of the link itself.

Expressions

The expression will define how to search and match files and what to do with them. Here you see that find is very powerful and has a lot of options.

Global options

Global options affect the operation of tests and actions specified on any part of the command line. To prevent confusion, global options should specified at the start of the whole expression.

Expression Global Option
-d or -depth Process each directory's contents before the directory itself (the -delete action also implies this).
-maxdepth <levels> How deep to go, 0 means only the starting point itself while 1 means also one level below.
-mindepth <levels> Only work on files starting with the given number of levels below the starting point.
-xdev or -mount Don't go into other file systems.
-ignore_readdir_race No error message will appear if a file was deleted while the find is running.

Positional options

Positional options affect only tests or actions which follow them.

Expression Positional Option
-daystart Measure times (for -amin, -atime, -cmin, -ctime, -mmin and -mtime) from the beginning of today rather than from 24 hours ago.
-regextype type Set the regular expression syntax understood by -regex and -iregex tests which occur later on the command line. One of: findutils-default, ed, emacs, gnu-awk, grep, posix-awk, awk, posix-basic, posix-egrep, egrep, posix-extended, posix-minimal-basic or sed.
-warn, -nowarn Turn warning messages on or off.

Test

Tests return a true or false value, usually on the basis of some property of a file we are considering.

Info

Numeric values can have a number for exact match or a prefix like + to match greater values or - to match lower values.

Expression Test
-amin <num> File was last accessed num minutes ago.
-atime <num> File was last accessed num*24 hours ago.
-cmin <num> File's status was last changed num minutes ago.
-ctime <num> File's status was last changed num*24 hours ago.
-mmin <num> File's data was last modified num minutes ago.
-mtime <num> File's data was last modified num*24 hours ago.
-anewer <reference> Time of the last access of the current file is more recent than that of the last data modification of the reference file.
-cnewer <reference> Time of the last status change of the current file is more recent than that of the last data modification of the reference file.
-newer <reference> Time of the last data modification of the current file is more recent than that of the last data modification of the reference file.
-newer<X><Y> <reference> Succeeds if timestamp X of the file being considered is newer than timestamp Y of the file reference. Allowed values for X and Y are: a (access time), B (birth time, if stored), c (inode status change), m (modification).
-used <num> File was last accessed num days after its status was last changed.
-empty File is empty and is either a regular file or a directory.
-size <num>[cwbkMG] File uses num units of space, rounding up. The value can be in b (512 byte blocks), c (bytes), w (word) or k, M, G.
-readable Matches files which are readable by the current user.
-writable Matches files which are writable by the current user.
-executable Matches files which are executable and directories which are searchable by the current user.
-nouser No user corresponds to file's numeric user ID.
-uid <uid> File's numeric user ID is uid.
-user <name> File is owned by user name (numeric user ID allowed).
-nogroup No group corresponds to file's numeric group ID.
-gid <gid> File's numeric group ID is gid.
-group <name> File belongs to group name (numeric group ID also allowed).
-perm <mode> File's permission bits are exactly mode (octal or symbolic g=w).
-perm -<mode> All of the permission bits mode are set for the file.
-perm /<mode> Any of the permission bits mode are set for the file.
-fstype <type> File is on a filesystem of type type. The valid filesystem types are: nfs, tmp, ext4 and more.
-name <pattern> Base of file name (without path) matches shell pattern pattern.
-iname <pattern> Like -name, but the match is case insensitive.
-path <pattern> File name matches shell pattern pattern.
-ipath <pattern> Like -path, but the match is case insensitive.
-iregex <pattern> Like -regex, but the match is case insensitive.
-lname <pattern> File is a symbolic link whose contents match shell pattern pattern.
-ilname <pattern> Like -lname, but the match is case insensitive.
-regex <pattern> File name matches regular expression pattern.
-samefile <name> File refers to the same inode as name.
-inum <num> File has inode number num. It is normally easier to use the -samefile test instead.
-links <num> File has num hard links.
-true Always true.
-false Always false.
-type <type> File is of type: b (block), c (character), d (directory), p (named pipe), f (file), l (symbolic link), s (socket).
-xtype <type> The same as -type unless the file is a symbolic link. Then it checks the type of the file that -type does not check.

For example, the patterns fo* and F?? match the file names Foo',FOO', foo',fOo', etc. The pattern *foo* will also match a file called '.foobar'.

Actions

Actions have side effects and return either true or false, usually based on whether or not they are successful.

Expression Action
-print Print the found paths (default action, if no other is given).
-delete Delete the found elements. This implies the -depth option.
-exec <command> [<args>...] Execute command and return true if 0 status is returned. All following arguments to find are taken to be arguments to the command until an argument consisting of ; is encountered. The string {} is replaced by the current file name being processed everywhere it occurs. Both of these constructions might need to be escaped (with a \) or quoted to protect them from expansion by the shell.
-exec <command> {} + This variant of the -exec action runs the specified command on the selected files, but the command line is built by appending each selected file name at the end.
-execdir <command> Like -exec, but the specified command is run from the subdirectory containing the matched file, which is not normally the directory in which you started find.
-execdir <command> {} + Like -exec, but the specified command is run from the subdirectory containing the matched file, which is done by calling all files in the same directory in one call.
-ok <command> Like -exec but ask the user first.
-okdir <command> Like -execdir but ask the user first in the same way as for -ok.
-ls List current file in ls -dils format on standard output.
-fls <file> Like -ls but write to file like -fprint.
-print Print the full file name on the standard output, followed by a newline.
-fprint <file> Print the full file name into file file.
-print0 Print the full file name on the standard output, followed by a null character.
-fprint0 <file> Like -print0 but write to file like -fprint.
-printf <format> Print format on the standard output, interpreting \ escapes and % directives (see below). You have to add newlines add the end yourself.
-fprintf <file> <format> Like -printf but write to file like -fprint.
-prune If the file is a directory, do not descend into it. If -depth is given, then -prune has no effect.
-quit Exit immediately.

printf Formats

Escape Value
\a Alarm bell.
\b Backspace.
\c Stop printing from this format immediately and flush the output.
\f Form feed.
\n Newline.
\r Carriage return.
\t Horizontal tab.
\v Vertical tab.
\0 ASCII NUL.
\\ A literal backslash (\).
\<NNN> The character whose ASCII code is NNN (octal).
\<char> A character followed by any other character is treated as an ordinary character.
%% A literal percent sign.
%a File's last access time in the format returned by the C ctime function.
%A<time> File's last access time in the format specified by time, which is either @ or a directive for the C strftime function.
%b The amount of disk space used for this file in 512-byte blocks.
%c File's last status change time in the format returned by the C ctime function.
%C<time> File's last status change time in the format specified by time, which is the same as for %A.
%d File's depth in the directory tree; 0 means the file is a starting-point.
%D The device number on which the file exists, in decimal.
%f File's name with any leading directories removed (only the last element).
%F Type of the filesystem the file is on; this value can be used for -fstype.
%g File's group name, or numeric group ID if the group has no name.
%G File's numeric group ID.
%h Leading directories of file's name (all but the last element).
%H Starting-point under which file was found.
%i File's inode number (in decimal).
%k The amount of disk space used for this file in 1 KB blocks.
%l Object of symbolic link (empty string if file is not a symbolic link).
%m File's permission bits (in octal).
%M File's permissions (in symbolic form, as for ls).
%n Number of hard links to file.
%p File's name.
%P File's name with the name of the starting-point under which it was found removed.
%s File's size in bytes.
%S File's sparseness. This is calculated as (BLOCKSIZE*st_blocks / st_size).
%t File's last modification time in the format returned by the C ctime function.
%T<time> File's last modification time in the format specified by time, which is the same as for %A.
%u File's user name, or numeric user ID if the user has no name.
%U File's numeric user ID.
%y File's type (like in ls -l).
%Y File's type (like %y), plus follow symlinks: L (loop), N (nonexistent), ? for any other error.

Time fields

Field Value
@ seconds since Jan. 1, 1970, 00:00 GMT, with fractional part.
H hour (00..23)
I hour (01..12)
k hour (0..23)
l hour (1..12)
M minute (00..59)
p locale's AM or PM
r time, 12-hour (hh:mm:ss [AP]M)
S Second (00.00 .. 61.00).
T time, 24-hour (hh:mm:ss.xxxxxxxxxx)
+ Date and time, separated by +, for example 2004-04-28+22:22:05.0.
X locale's time representation (H:M:S).
Z time zone (e.g., EDT), or nothing if no time zone is determinable.
a locale's abbreviated weekday name (Sun..Sat)
A locale's full weekday name, variable length (Sunday..Saturday)
b locale's abbreviated month name (Jan..Dec)
B locale's full month name, variable length (January..December)
c locale's date and time (Sat Nov 04 12:02:33 EST 1989).
d day of month (01..31)
D date (mm/dd/yy)
h same as b
j day of year (001..366)
m month (01..12)
U week number of year with Sunday as first day of week (00..53)
w day of week (0..6)
W week number of year with Monday as first day of week (00..53)
x locale's date representation (mm/dd/yy)
y last two digits of year (00..99)
Y year (1970...)

Operators

Operators join together the other items within the expression using logical combinations. Listed in order of decreasing precedence:

Expression Operator
( <expr> ) Force precedence. Since parentheses are special to the shell, you will normally need to quote them:\(...\).
! <expr> True if expr is false. Also use shell escape here: \!.
-not <expr> Same as ! <expr>.
<expr1> <expr2> Two expressions in a row are taken to be logical joined with an implied -a. expr2 is only evaluated if expr1 is false.
<expr1> -a <expr2> Same as <expr1> <expr2>.
<expr1> -and <expr2> Same as <expr1> <expr2>.
<expr1> -o <expr2> Logical or: expr2 is not evaluated if expr1 is true.
<expr1> -or <expr2> Same as <expr1> -o <expr2>.
<expr1> , <expr2> List: both expr1 and expr2 are always evaluated.

Examples

To skip the directory src/emacs and all files and directories under it, but print the names of the other files found:

find . -path ./src/emacs -prune -o -print