I have a variable called var that stores the list of files inside a directory. I loop through all the files and if I find a directory I output "Directory" to the screen. code below:

var=$(ls dir)

for file in $var; do
    if [ -d $dir/$file ]; then
        echo "Directory"

I have 2 questions:

1st- I am doing this inside a function and I want the $file variable to stay local so when my function ends I don't get access to it. How can I set that variable local? I cant do for local file in $var; and I cant declare $file before the loop.

2nd- My loop doesnt work when $(ls dir) contains a file that has a space inside the name. For example if $dir has 3 files, file1 file 2 and file3, $var would only hold file1 and file3 as real files but file 2 would not work because it would separate it into file and 2. How can I fix the problem of the files that have space in their names?

  • 2
    for the space, put double quotes around "$file". for more complex situations you might have to use $"$file". – Frank Thomas Dec 29 '15 at 16:00
  • I tried that but it didn't work because I am already getting the space from $(ls dir), so when I initialize my variable file I am already taking the space into consideration. – Fxbaez Dec 29 '15 at 16:04
  • 3
    Try ls -Q dir. this will put quotes around each file name. This issue is part of why it is recommended that people avoid parsing ls output, and instead use find. – Frank Thomas Dec 29 '15 at 16:10

For making $file local: you can use local file before assigning to it.

For files with spaces: don't parse ls, use a wildcard, and use double-quotes around variable references:

local file
for file in "$dir"/*; do  # Note that $file will contain $dir as well as the filename
    if [ -d "$file" ]; then
        echo "Directory: $file"

If you want to store the file names before starting the loop, use an array instead of a plain variable:

local -a filelist
local file
for file in "${filelist[@]}"; do

See BashFAQ #20: "How can I find and safely handle file names containing newlines, spaces or both?" for more complex examples and more tricks.

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