Find or Search Files in Linux from the Command Line

To find a file in Linux system, we use find command. Let’s see various use of the find command:

To see the details of what the find command can do, we can use man find command in the Linux command Line.

Find Command Syntax: syntax from man find command

find [-H] [-L] [-P] [-D debugopts] [-Olevel] [starting-point...] [expression]

As previously mentioned, you can see the details of this command in the man page. The basic simplified syntax would be:

find [path] [options] [expression]

Find files by the file names or extensions:

Find a file with name filename.txt in the /tmp directory:
find /tmp -name filename.txt
-name: for finding case sensitive files

-iname: for finding case insensitive files

Find a file with name filename.txt in the current and the sub-directories:
find . -iname filename.txt

Find all the files in the current and sub-directories end with a particular file extension (i.g.: .txt, .html, .jpg etc): for the extension .txt

fine . -name "*.txt"

Find files by File Type

If we want to a file with particular type, we can use -type option in the find command. Some files types in Linux system:

  • Directory files: d
  • Regular files: f
  • Block files: b
  • Character device files: c
  • Named pipe file/a pipe file: p
  • Symbolic link files: l
  • Socket files: s

To find block devices, command would be:

find / -type b

Find files with type and name:

find /home/abc -type f -name "*.yaml"

Find files in Linux with file size

We can use -size option to find files with sizes. To find files those have size more than 100MB:

find /home/abc -size +100MB

We can search with the following size units:

  1. b: 512-byte blocks
  2. c: bytes
  3. k: Kilobytes
  4. M: Megabytes
  5. G: Gigabytes

Find files in Linux based on when they were modified

We can use mtime or newermt option to specify the time since the files modified. Examples:

Find modified in last 10 days with an extension html:

find /home/userabc -name "*html" -mtime 10
  • for the files modified in the last <number> of days
  • + for the files modified more than the <number> of days
#Modified 10 days ago:
find /home/userabc -name "*html" +mtime 10

Find files modified in last 24 hours with in the directory /home/userabc/:

find /home/userabc/ -mtime -1 -ls
find /home/userabc/ -mtime 0
or using newermt 
find /home/userabc/ -newermt "-24 hours" -ls

Find files modified yesterday:

find /home/userabc/ -newermt "yesterday" -ls

As a summery, some commonly used find commands

Linux find file recursively based on a wildcard/pattern matching: To find a file in Linux in all directories
# . indicates the current directory. In this case, find command will find file in the current and 
# sub-directories. 
find . -iname "pattern*"
Find folder/directory in Linux: Find a directory in the whole system with type d
find / -type d -name 'directoryname'
Find files anywhere on Linux: To search in the entire Linux system use “/” as the path
find / -name "filename"

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