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Linux commands: find

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A quick guide to the find command, used to find files and folders on the filesystem

The find command can be used to find files or folders matching a particular search pattern. It searches recursively.

Let’s learn it by example.

Find all the files under the current tree that have the .js extension and print the relative path of each file matching:

find . -name '*.js'

It’s important to use quotes around special characters like * to avoid the shell interpreting them.

Find directories under the current tree matching the name “src”:

find . -type d -name src

Use -type f to search only files, or -type l to only search symbolic links.

-name is case sensitive. use -iname to perform a case-insensitive search.

You can search under multiple root trees:

find folder1 folder2 -name filename.txt

Find directories under the current tree matching the name “node_modules” or ‘public’:

find . -type d -name node_modules -or -name public

You can also exclude a path, using -not -path:

find . -type d -name '*.md' -not -path 'node_modules/*'

You can search files that have more than 100 characters (bytes) in them:

find . -type f -size +100c

Search files bigger than 100KB but smaller than 1MB:

find . -type f -size +100k -size -1M

Search files edited more than 3 days ago

find . -type f -mtime +3

Search files edited in the last 24 hours

find . -type f -mtime -1

You can delete all the files matching a search by adding the -delete option. This deletes all the files edited in the last 24 hours:

find . -type f -mtime -1 -delete

You can execute a command on each result of the search. In this example we run cat to print the file content:

find . -type f -exec cat {} \;

notice the terminating \;. {} is filled with the file name at execution time.

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