Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

How can I search through directories starting with a certain letter with the Linux find command.

For example I want to search all directories starting with the letter a for a file or directory starting with b.

share|improve this question
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Try a find in a find:

find . -type d -name "a*" -exec find {} -name "b" \;

Starting at the current directory (.), find will look for all directories starting with the letter a recursively. For each directory it finds, it will look inside it for a file named b.

If you only want it to look in the folders starting with a, and no directories in those a* folders, use maxdepth:

find . -type d -name "a*" -exec find {} -maxdepth 1 -name "b" \;

to get rid of errors:

find . -type d -name "a*" 2> /dev/null -exec find {} -maxdepth 1 -name "b" \;
share|improve this answer
nix the -type f on the interior find -- OP's question indicates "b" could be file or directory. – quack quixote Dec 8 '09 at 2:34
Yeah I had that part in mind so I just did a file example. If I take off the type it will also show symbolic links among other things he doesn't want -- if there happens to be one named "b". – John T Dec 8 '09 at 4:05
well, he doesn't specify not wanting symlinks, so i'd make the opposite assumption -- but we've pointed out the limitations now, so he can make up his own mind. :) – quack quixote Dec 8 '09 at 15:35
True enough, that way my command wont wrap either. – John T Dec 8 '09 at 19:18
Thanks everyone, this is what I was looking for. – bing Dec 9 '09 at 9:03

Just a quick update for people who might end up on this question.

In addition to the solution John T provided, I have also found that you can exclude directories by using the prune switch (should have read the man pages sooner I guess, hehe.)

So for example if I want to search all directories for file or directory "b" except directories starting with an "a" I can do this

find . -path 'a*' -prune -o -name "b" -print


share|improve this answer

you can also use find -regex...

find -regex .*/a.*/b
share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .