How to use FIND command in Linux

how to use find command in linux

Find command is a pretty useful command for easily locating files & folders in Linux. What makes it a powerful command is that we can use a number of search criteria/options to refine the search.

It can be found & used on almost all Linux distros by default.

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Syntax for using Find command

To use the find command, the basic syntax is:-

# find location search-criteria search-term

Now that we have some understanding of what the find command is & how to use the find command in Linux. Let’s discuss some examples as well,

Examples of the FIND command in Linux

To find all the files in the ‘/’ folder i.e. root directory, use,

# find / -type f

To search for the file in a particular directory, use,

# find /etc/ -type f

To find all the folders/directories in the ‘/’ folder i.e. root directory, use,

# find / -type d

To look for all the directories in a particular directory, use,

# find /etc/ -type d

If you know the name of the file or folder you are looking for, then you can also use that to make search easy & fast with the following command,

# find /etc -iname “*.txt”

This shows all the files in the /etc folder with extension .txt. One thing to consider here is that it will ignore a case-sensitive file. It will show all the files ending with .txt but will ignore files ending with .TXT or .Txt.

To include all such files as well, we can use ‘-name’ instead of ‘-iname’, for example,

# find /etc -name “*.txt”

Find command can also be used to exclude some files & only show the remaining files, use,

# find /etc -not -name “*.txt”

above command will list all the files & directories that do not have extension “.txt” at the end.

With the find command, we can also find files based on the file sizes. Use the following example as reference,

# find /etc -type f -size 2M

This will show all the files in the /etc folder with the size of 2 Megabytes.

We can also combine more than one search option to produce a more refined search,

# find /etc -name ‘test*’ ! -name ‘*.php’

here, it will find all the files with the name ‘test’ at the start in ‘/etc’ folder which does not have extension .php. “!” here is the equivalent of AND operator.

Also, we can combine two search criteria & produce results when any of the two search criteria are satisfied.

# find /etc -name ‘test*’ -o -name ‘*.txt’

Here “-o” is equivalent to OR operator.

To find files based on their permissions, use,

# find /etc -type f -perm 0400

This will show all the files in the /etc folder with the permission of 0644.

# find /etc -type f -perm /u=r

The result for the above command will show all files for a user with only read permissions.

Similar to how we can locate files with particular permissions, we can also use find command to locate files with a particular owner,

# find / -user dan

Here, we are locating all the files that are created by user ‘dan’. Similarly, we can also search for files or folders that are owned by a group by replacing -user with -group.

# find / -group dan

# find / -mtime 10

It will find all the files that were modified in the last 10 days. Replace mtime with -atime to find all the files that were accessed in the last 10 days.

# find / -cmin -60

It will find all the files that were changed in the last 60 minutes.

# find / -mmin -60

It will find all the files modified in the last 60 minutes.

# find / -amin -60

It will find all the files accessed in the last 60 minutes.

To get all files and present them in order as ‘ls command’ would, use,

# find . -exec ls -ld {} \;

This will show all the files in output as would be shown by ls command.

We can also combine some options to locate files & then can also perform an operation to delete them, all in a single command,

# find /etc -type f -name *.txt -size -1M -exec rm -f {} \;

This command will find all the files with .txt as an extension with a size of less than 1 Megabyte & will execute the rm/delete command on found files.

Getting Help

Like with any other Linux command, we can also take help from the OS documentation to get more detailed information about the command. Use,

# find –help

With this, we complete our tutorial on how to use the FIND command in Linux. These are only some examples, certainly, there are plenty of ways that you can use the find command to get what you need. If you run into any issues or have any questions, please do send us using the comment box below.

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