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I am attempting to use regular expressions to remove set of files however the bash shell returns the message

rm: cannot remove `[0-99]+ -': No such file or directory
rm: cannot remove `[a-zA-Z': No such file or directory
rm: cannot remove `]+.[a-z]+': No such file or directory

The command is [0-99]+\ - [a-zA-Z ]+\.[a-z]+


  1. Can I use regular expressions?
  2. If yes, how do I use them with commands such as rm, mkdir, etc
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Bash (and the other Unix shells) use wildcards, not full regular expressions, and ranges cannot include a space.

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What can I use with full support for regular expressions? – PeanutsMonkey Sep 9 '12 at 21:00
You'll have to use find if you want full regex support. But be aware that find supports several variations on regex. The default is emacs-style. If you'd like one of the others, e.g., posix-awk or posix-egrep, you'll need to specify the -regextype. You can paste the output of find back onto the command line as arguments to rm using `...` command substitution (but not if the filenames contain spaces). – Nicole Hamilton Sep 10 '12 at 1:01

Use regural expression into a find command like

find . -type f -regex regEXP

and use it in tandem with rm in the following way

find . -type f -regex regEXP -exec rm -rf {} \;

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Careful: -regexp matches the whole path (different from -name), including parent directories. Not an issue with these patterns, but something to keep in mind. – Daniel Beck Sep 9 '12 at 8:00
Yes you're right but this command works – DonCallisto Sep 9 '12 at 8:02
@DonCallisto: You missed a hyphen on the rf. If GNU find is available it's quicker to delete with the -delete command. – Thor Sep 9 '12 at 10:55
@Daniel Beck - What do you mean by whole path? – PeanutsMonkey Sep 9 '12 at 21:00
By "whole path", he means everything including the "./" that will get pasted onto the beginning of each result. – Nicole Hamilton Sep 10 '12 at 0:58

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