find - Linux


The find command in Linux is a powerful utility used for searching for files in a directory hierarchy. It can locate files and directories based on complex criteria, including file name, type, modification date, size, and permissions. This command is especially useful in scripting, data management, system maintenance, and automation tasks.


find [path...] [expression]
  • path: Specifies the starting directory for the search. Defaults to the current directory if not provided.
  • expression: Composed of options, tests, and actions used to specify how to search and what to do with the found items.


  • -name pattern: Search for files that match a filename pattern. Use quotes to avoid shell pattern expansion.
  • -type [f|d|l]: Search for files of a specific type (f for regular files, d for directories, l for symbolic links).
  • -size [+-]size[cwbkMG]: Search for files of a specific size. Use + or - to specify larger or smaller than the given size, respectively. Units can be specified: c (bytes), k (kilobytes), M (megabytes), G (gigabytes).
  • -mtime [-+]n: Find files modified n days ago. +n for more than n days ago, -n for less than.


1. Finding all JPEG files in a directory:

find /path/to/directory -type f -name "*.jpg"

2. Finding directories modified within the last week:

find /path -type d -mtime -7

3. Finding and deleting empty files:

find /path/to/directory -type f -empty -delete

4. Advanced search using multiple criteria:

find /path/to/directory -type f \( -name "*.txt" -or -name "*.md" \) -size +512k

Common Issues

  • Permission Denied: Users may encounter this when they do not have the necessary permissions to access directories or files. Utilize sudo or adjust permissions appropriately.
  • Complex Expressions: Getting the syntax right for complex find expressions can be challenging. Always test complex commands on a small data set first.


find can be combined effectively with other commands using pipes. For instance, to count the number of JPEG files in a directory:

find /path/to/directory -type f -name "*.jpg" | wc -l

To archive all modified files in the past day:

find /path/to/files -mtime -1 -type f -exec tar -rvf archive.tar {} +
  • locate: A faster alternative that uses a prebuilt database of files.
  • grep: Often used in conjunction with find to search inside files.
  • xargs: Useful for passing output from find as arguments to other commands.

For more details, visit the official GNU find manual: GNU Find.