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UNIX Find A File Command

Find all perl (*.pl) files in current directory:
$ find . -name '*.pl'
The . represent the current directory and the -name option specifies all pl (perl) files. The quotes avoid the shell expansion and it is necessary when you want to use wild card based search (without quotes the shell would replace *.pl with the list of files in the current directory).

To list only files and avoid all directories

$ find . -type f -name '*.pl'
Above command will only list files and will exclude directories, special files, pipes, symbolic links etc.

Search all directories

Search file called httpd.conf in all directories:
$ find / -type f -name httpd.conf
Generally this is a bad idea to look for files. This can take a considerable amount of time. It is recommended that you specify the directory name. For example look httpd.conf in /usr/local directory:
$ find /usr/local -type f -name httpd.conf

Execute command on all files

Run ls -l command on all *.c files to get extended information :
$ find . -name "*.c" -type f -exec ls -l {} \;
You can run almost all UNIX command on file. For example, modify all permissions of all files to 0700 only in ~/code directory:
$ find ~/code -exec chmod 0700 {} \;
Search for all files owned by a user called payal:
$ find . -user
$ find . -user payal

Search for files containing specific Text

grep -rnw '/path/to/directory/' -e 'Text to search'
  • -r or -R is recursive,
  • -n is line number, and
  • -w stands for match the whole word.
  • -l (lower-case L) can be added to just give the file name of matching files.


Read find command man page for detailed information:
$ man find 

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