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FIND(1) General Commands Manual FIND(1)

findwalk a file hierarchy

find [-H | -L | -P] [-dEhsXx] file [file ...] [expression]

find [-H | -L | -P] [-dEhsXx] -f file [file ...] [expression]

find recursively descends the directory tree for each file listed, evaluating an expression (composed of the “primaries” and “operands” listed below) in terms of each file in the tree.

The options are as follows:

Causes the file information and file type (see stat(2)) returned for each symbolic link encountered on the command line to be those of the file referenced by the link, not the link itself. If the referenced file does not exist, the file information and type will be for the link itself. File information of all symbolic links not on the command line is that of the link itself.
Causes the file information and file type (see stat(2)) returned for each symbolic link to be those of the file referenced by the link, not the link itself. If the referenced file does not exist, the file information and type will be for the link itself.
Causes the file information and file type (see stat(2)) returned for each symbolic link to be those of the link itself.
Causes find to perform a depth-first traversal, i.e., directories are visited in post-order, and all entries in a directory will be acted on before the directory itself. By default, find visits directories in pre-order, i.e., before their contents. Note, the default is not a breadth-first traversal.
Causes regexp arguments to primaries to be interpreted as extended regular expressions (see re_format(7)).
Specifies a file hierarchy for find to traverse. File hierarchies may also be specified as the operands immediately following the options.
Causes the file information and file type (see stat(2)) returned for each symbolic link to be those of the file referenced by the link, not the link itself. If the referenced file does not exist, the file information and type will be for the link itself.
Causes the entries of each directory to be sorted in lexicographical order. Note that the sorting is done only inside of each directory; files in different directories are not sorted. Therefore, ‘a/b’ appears before ‘a.b’, which is different from “find ... | sort” order.
Modifies the output to permit find to be safely used in conjunction with xargs(1). If a file name contains any of the delimiting characters used by xargs(1), a diagnostic message is displayed on standard error, and the file is skipped. The delimiting characters include single (“'”) and double (“"”) quotes, backslash (“\”), space, tab, and newline characters. Alternatively, the -print0 or -printx primaries can be used to format the output in a way that xargs(1) can accept.
Restricts the search to the file system containing the directory specified. Does not list mount points to other file systems.

All primaries which take a numeric argument of n allow the number to be preceded by a plus sign (“+”) or a minus sign (“-”). A preceding plus sign means “more than n”, a preceding minus sign means “less than n”, and neither means “exactly n”.

n
True if the difference between the file last access time and the time find was started, rounded up to the next full minute, is n minutes.

file
True if the current file has a more recent last access time than file.

n
True if the difference between the file last access time and the time find was started, rounded up to the next full 24-hour period, is n 24-hour periods.

n
True if the difference between the time of last change of file status information and the time find was started, rounded up to the next full minute, is n minutes.

file
True if the current file has a more recent last change time than file.

n
True if the difference between the time of last change of file status information and the time find was started, rounded up to the next full 24-hour period, is n 24-hour periods.

Delete found files, symbolic links, and directories. Always returns true. This executes from the current working directory as find recurses down the tree. To avoid deleting unexpected files, it will ignore any filenames that fts(3) returns that contain a “/” (fts(3) should not return such pathnames). Depth-first traversal processing is implied by this option. This primary can also be invoked as -rm.

True if the current file or directory is empty.

utility [argument ...] ;
 
utility [argument ...] {} +
Execute the specified utility with the specified arguments.

The list of arguments for utility is terminated by a lone semicolon “;” or plus “+” character as a separate parameter. The command specified by utility will be executed with its current working directory being the directory from which find was executed.

If the list of arguments is terminated by a semicolon (“;”), then utility is invoked once per pathname. If the string “{}” appears one or more times in the utility name or arguments, then it is replaced by the pathname of the current file (but it need not appear, in which case the pathname will not be passed to utility). The semicolon-terminated form of the -exec primary returns true if and only if utility exits with a zero exit status. Note that the semicolon will have to be escaped on the shell command line in order to be passed as a parameter.

If the list of arguments is terminated by a plus sign (“+”), then the pathnames for which the primary is evaluated are aggregated into sets, and utility will be invoked once per set, similar to xargs(1). In this case the string “{}” must appear, and must appear as the last item in the argument list, just before the “+” parameter, and is replaced by the pathnames of the current set of files. Each set is limited to no more than 5,000 pathnames, and is also limited such that the total number of bytes in the argument list does not exceed ARG_MAX. The plus-terminated form of the -exec primary always returns true. If the plus-terminated form of the -exec primary results in any invocation of utility exiting with non-zero exit status, then find will eventually exit with non-zero status as well, but this does not cause find to exit early.

utility [argument ...] ;
The -execdir primary is similar to the semicolon-terminated (“;”) variant of the -exec primary, with the exception that utility will be executed from the directory that holds the current file. Only the base filename is substituted for the string “{}”. Set aggregation (“+” termination) is not supported.

[status]
This primary causes find to stop traversing the file system and exit immediately, with the specified numeric exit status. If the status value is not specified, then find will exit with status zero. Note that any preceding primaries will be evaluated and acted upon before exiting.

This primary always evaluates to false. This can be used following a primary that caused the expression to be true to make the expression to be false. This can be useful after using a -fprint primary so it can continue to the next expression (using an -or operator, for example).

[-]flags
If flags are preceded by a dash (“-”), this primary evaluates to true if at least all of the bits in flags are set in the file's flags bits. If flags are not preceded by a dash, this primary evaluates to true if the bits in flags exactly match the file's flags bits. If flags is “none”, files with no flags bits set are matched. (See chflags(1) for more information about file flags.)

Follow symbolic links.

filename
This primary always evaluates to true. This creates filename or overwrites the file if it already exists. The file is created at startup. It writes the pathname of the current file to this file, followed by a newline character. The file will be empty if no files are matched.

type
True if the file is contained in a file system of type type. The sysctl(8) command can be used to find out the types of file systems that are available on the system:
sysctl vfs.generic.fstypes
    

In addition, there are two pseudo-types, “local” and “rdonly”. The former matches any file system physically mounted on the system where the find is being executed, and the latter matches any file system which is mounted read-only.

gname
True if the file belongs to the group gname. If gname is numeric and there is no such group name, then gname is treated as a group id.

pattern
True if the last component of the pathname being examined matches pattern in a case-insensitive manner. Special shell pattern matching characters (“[”, “]”, “*”, and “?”) may be used as part of pattern. These characters may be matched explicitly by escaping them with a backslash (“\”).

n
True if the file has inode number n.

regexp
True if the path name of the current file matches the case-insensitive basic regular expression (see re_format(7)) regexp. This is a match on the whole path, not a search for the regular expression within the path.

n
True if the file has n links.

This primary is an alias for -delete.

This primary always evaluates to true. The following information for the current file is written to standard output: its inode number, size in 512-byte blocks, file permissions, number of hard links, owner, group, size in bytes, last modification time, and pathname. If the file is a block or character special file, the major and minor numbers will be displayed instead of the size in bytes. If the file is a symbolic link, the pathname of the linked-to file will be displayed preceded by “->”. The format is identical to that produced by “ls -dgils”.

n
True if the current search depth is less than or equal to what is specified in n.

n
True if the current search depth is at least what is specified in n.

n
True if the difference between the file last modification time and the time find was started, rounded up to the next full minute, is n minutes.

n
True if the difference between the file last modification time and the time find was started, rounded up to the next full 24-hour period, is n 24-hour periods.

utility [argument ...] ;
The -ok primary is similar to the semicolon-terminated (“;”) variant of the -exec primary, with the exception that find requests user affirmation for the execution of utility by printing a message to the terminal and reading a response. If the response is other than “y”, the command is not executed and the -ok primary evaluates to false. Set aggregation (“+” termination) is not supported.

pattern
True if the last component of the pathname being examined matches pattern. Special shell pattern matching characters (“[”, “]”, “*”, and “?”) may be used as part of pattern. These characters may be matched explicitly by escaping them with a backslash (“\”).

file
True if the current file has a more recent last modification time than file.

True if the file belongs to an unknown user.

True if the file belongs to an unknown group.

pattern
True if the pathname being examined matches pattern. Special shell pattern matching characters (“[”, “]”, “*”, and “?”) may be used as part of pattern. These characters may be matched explicitly by escaping them with a backslash (“\”). Slashes (“/”) are treated as normal characters and do not have to be matched explicitly.

[-]mode
The mode may be either symbolic (see chmod(1)) or an octal number. If the mode is symbolic, a starting value of zero is assumed and the mode sets or clears permissions without regard to the process' file mode creation mask. If the mode is octal, only bits 07777 (S_ISUID | | | | | ) of the file's mode bits participate in the comparison. If the mode is preceded by a dash (“-”), this primary evaluates to true if at least all of the bits in the mode are set in the file's mode bits. If the mode is not preceded by a dash, this primary evaluates to true if the bits in the mode exactly match the file's mode bits. Note, the first character of a symbolic mode may not be a dash (“-”).

This primary always evaluates to true. It prints the pathname of the current file to standard output, followed by a newline character. If none of -delete, -exec, -execdir, -exit, -fprint, -ls, -ok, -print0, -printx, nor -rm is specified, the given expression shall be effectively replaced by (given expression) -print.

This primary always evaluates to true. It prints the pathname of the current file to standard output, followed by a NUL character.

This primary always evaluates to true. It prints the pathname of the current file to standard output, with each space, tab, newline, backslash, dollar sign, and single, double, or back quotation mark prefixed by a backslash, so the output of find can safely be used as input to xargs(1).

This primary always evaluates to true. It causes find to not descend into the current file. Note, the -prune primary has no effect if the -d option was specified.

regexp
True if the path name of the current file matches the case-sensitive basic regular expression (see re_format(7)) regexp. This is a match on the whole path, not a search for the regular expression within the path.

n[c]
True if the file's size, rounded up, in 512-byte blocks is n. If n is followed by a “c”, then the primary is true if the file's size is n bytes.

t
True if the file is of the specified type. Possible file types are as follows:

block special
character special
directory
regular file
symbolic link
FIFO
socket
whiteout
whiteout

uname
True if the file belongs to the user uname. If uname is numeric and there is no such user name, then uname is treated as a user id (and considered a numeric argument).

This primary always evaluates to true. It causes find not to descend past directories that have a different device ID (st_dev, see stat(2) S5.6.2 [POSIX.1]).

The primaries may be combined using the following operators. The operators are listed in order of decreasing precedence.

expression )
This evaluates to true if the parenthesized expression evaluates to true.
expression
This is the unary NOT operator. It evaluates to true if the expression is false.
expression -and expression
 
expression expression
The -and operator is the logical AND operator. As it is implied by the juxtaposition of two expressions it does not have to be specified. The expression evaluates to true if both expressions are true. The second expression is not evaluated if the first expression is false.
expression -or expression
The -or operator is the logical OR operator. The expression evaluates to true if either the first or the second expression is true. The second expression is not evaluated if the first expression is true.

All operands and primaries must be separate arguments to find. Primaries which themselves take arguments expect each argument to be a separate argument to find.

The find utility normally exits 0 on success, and exits with 1 under certain internal error conditions. If any invocations of “-exec ... +” primaries return non-zero exit-status, then find will do so as well.

The following examples are shown as given to the shell:

Print out a list of all the files whose names do not end in “.c”.
Print out a list of all the files owned by user “wnj” that are newer than the file “ttt”.
Print out a list of all the files in the current directory that are newer than 30 minutes.
Print out a list of all the files in any sub-directories that have not been accessed in the past ten days.
Interactively remove all of the files in the current directory that have not been modified in 90 days.
Interactively rename all of the files in the current directory and all sub-directories that have not been modified in 90 days.
Print out a list of all the files which are not both newer than “ttt” and owned by “wnj”.
Print out a list of all the files that are either owned by “wnj” or that are newer than “ttt”.
Return immediately with a value of 1 if any files are found that are either owned by “wnj” or that are newer than “ttt”, but do not print them.
Same as above, but list the first file matching the criteria before exiting with a value of 1.
Perform an arbitrarily complex shell command for every file.

chflags(1), chmod(1), locate(1), xargs(1), stat(2), fts(3), getgrent(3), getpwent(3), strmode(3), re_format(7), symlink(7), sysctl(8)

The find utility syntax is a superset of the syntax specified by the IEEE Std 1003.2 (“POSIX.2”) standard.

The options and the -amin, -anewer, -cmin, -cnewer, -delete, -empty, -execdir, -follow, -fstype, -iname, -inum, -iregex, -links, -ls, -maxdepth, -mindepth, -mmin, -path, -print0, -printx, -regex, and -rm primaries are extensions to IEEE Std 1003.2 (“POSIX.2”).

Historically, the -d, -h, and -x options were implemented using the primaries “-depth”, “-follow”, and “-xdev”. These primaries always evaluated to true, and always took effect when the expression was parsed, before the file system traversal began. As a result, some legal expressions could be confusing. For example, in the expression “-print -or -depth”, -print always evaluates to true, so the standard meaning of -or implies that -depth would never be evaluated, but that is not what happens; in fact, -depth takes effect immediately, without testing whether -print returns true or false.

Historically, the operator “-or” was implemented as “-o”, and the operator “-and” was implemented as “-a”.

Historic implementations of the “-exec” and “-ok” primaries did not replace the string “{}” in the utility name or the utility arguments if it did not appear as a separate argument. This version replaces it no matter where in the utility name or arguments it appears.

Support for “-exec ... +” is consistent with IEEE PASC Interpretation 1003.2 #210, though the feature originated in SVR4.

The -delete primary does not interact well with other options that cause the file system tree traversal options to be changed.

A much simpler find command appeared in First Edition AT&T Unix. The syntax had become similar to the present version by the time of the Fifth Edition.

The special characters used by find are also special characters to many shell programs. In particular, the characters “*”, “[”, “]”, “?”, “(”, “)”, “!”, “\”, and “;” may have to be escaped from the shell.

As there is no delimiter separating options and file names or file names and the expression, it is difficult to specify files named “-xdev” or “!”. These problems are handled by the -f option and the getopt(3) “--” construct.

May 17, 2014 NetBSD-7.0.1