fts_children - Linux


The fts_children command is a powerful text search tool that recursively searches for files and directories matching specific criteria within a specified directory tree. It efficiently locates files containing text patterns, making it an invaluable asset for data discovery and analysis.


fts_children [options] <path> [<criteria>]...


  • -d: Search for directories instead of files.
  • -i: Case-insensitive search.
  • -m: Search for files that match all criteria. (Default: Match any criterion)
  • -n: Print the number of matching files instead of the actual files.
  • -p: Print the full path of matching files. (Default: Print the filename only)
  • -R: Recursively search subdirectories. (Default: Search the current directory only)
  • -t: Print the type of each matching file (file, directory, etc.).
  • -v: Verbose mode. Print additional information about the search process.
  • -h, --help: Print the help information.


  • Search for all files containing the word "example" in the current directory:
    fts_children . example
  • Recursively search for directories named "bin" within the "/usr" directory:
    fts_children -R /usr -d bin
  • Print the full path and type of all hidden files in the home directory:
    fts_children -p -t ~ .[a-zA-Z]*
  • Search for files that contain both "error" and "warning" in a case-insensitive manner:
    fts_children -i -m /var/log error warning

Common Issues

  • Ensure the fts_children command is installed and in your system’s path.
  • Double-check search paths and criteria for accuracy.
  • When using regular expressions, escape special characters properly.
  • Use -v to troubleshoot search problems and identify potential issues.


  • Combine with xargs to perform actions on matching files:
    fts_children -n . mp3 | xargs du
  • Use with grep to further filter search results:
    fts_children . -p | grep -E "\.txt$"

Related Commands

  • find: General-purpose file search utility.
  • grep: Text search tool that operates line-by-line.
  • locate: Database-assisted file search utility.