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I Tried to delete files that starts with A and ends with 2 numbers but It doesn't do a thing.
What I tried:

rm ^A*[0..9]2$

Where am I wrong?

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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can use the following command to delete all files matching your criteria:

ls | grep -P "^A.*[0-9]{2}$" | xargs -d"\n" rm

How it works:

  1. ls lists all files (one by line since the result is piped).

  2. grep -P "^A.*[0-9]{2}$" filters the list of files and leaves only those that match the regular expression ^A.*[0-9]{2}$

    • .* indicates any number of occurrences of ., where . is a wildcard matching any character.

    • [0-9]{2} indicates exactly two occurrences of [0-9], that is, any digit.

  3. xargs -d"\n" rm executes rm line once for every line that is piped to it.

Where am I wrong?

For starters, rm doesn't accept a regular expression as an argument. Besides the wildcard *, every other character is treated literally.

Also, your regular expression is slightly off. For example, * means any occurrences of ... in a regular expression, so A* matches A, AA, etc. and even an empty string.

For more information, visit Regular-Expressions.info.

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Beware of spaces in file names. –  slhck Feb 22 '12 at 18:27
The -d"\n switch fixes the spaces problem. –  Frg Feb 22 '12 at 19:14
Note - some distros (like Mac OS) don't have a grep -P (Perl regex). grep -E may work in this case. –  bluescrubbie Oct 2 '13 at 20:59
I prefer using -I with xargs and always test with non-lethal commands first: xargs -d"\n" -I {} echo "{}" –  jozxyqk Mar 24 at 5:40
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Or using find:

find your-directory/ -name 'A*[0-9][0-9]' -delete

This solution will deal with weird file names.

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See the filename expansion section of the bash man page:

rm A*[0-9][0-9]
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