find is a UNIX utility program which searches directory trees for files matching particular patterns.
find is recursive. It searches from the specified directory and looks in all sub-directories.
By default, the search pattern uses glob-style pattern matching (not regex).
Find File By Name
A common use case is using
find to find files which match a specific glob pattern. For example, if you wanted to find all C++ header files (
.hpp) in the current directory and all subdirectories (remember,
find is recursive by default), you would use:
$ find . -name '*.cpp'
You have to provide the
* at the start because find matches against the whole path (it doesn’t allow partial matches).
You can provide find with multiple patterns by using the
The following example looks for all files with the
.hpp file extension in the current directory.
$ find . -name "*.cpp" -o -name "*.hpp"
Find In Path
-name option only searches in the filename, but not the path in which the file sits. If you want to find matches against the path, use the
-path option instead. The following example will find all paths that contain the string
$ find . -path '*image*'
Note that the path includes the filename, so you’ll find matches in the file name also. Replace
-ipath to make the pattern case insensitive.
As far as I know, the
-wholename option is identical to
-path. I believe
-path is more portable, being part of the POSIX 2008 standard.
You can use the
-regex flag to use regex search patterns instead of glob. For example, to find all images in your current directory that have a filename made of numbers, you could use:
$ find . -regex '\./[0-9]+\.jpg'
find always lists files in the current directory with
./ at the start.
find uses emacs style regex, which have different escaping rules than the usual
egrep regex. Weirdly, on Mac I could not get the
+ operator (match one or more of the proceeding item) to work. I had to add
-E tells find to use extended regex):
$ find . -regex '\./[0-9]+\.jpg' -E
Combining With sed
find, a program which finds files, lends itself to working well in conjunction with
sed, a program for modifying the contents of a file.