I want to remove all the folders and files but except one. I have a Ubuntu server and I tried several methods and none of them worked.

This is my folder structure.


I want to keep the app/public/uploads and delete all other files and folders.

These are the methods I tried:

find . -maxdepth 1 ! -name 'public/uploads' ! -name '.*' | xargs rm -rf

find . ! -name 'public/uploads' -type f -exec rm -f {} +

2 Answers 2


I actually wanted to achieve a similar behaviour today. I'm wiring documentation for a C# library that I have written with DocFx and the files were generated inside the _site folder.

Now, in my particular case, I needed two things, a) to have a git repository inside the _site folder, and b) after each build I wanted to remove everything inside the _site folder except the .git folder and all its contents.

To simulate the behaviour lets see the following structure:

enter image description here

The goal is to remove all except .git/**

So first, what I did was to write a find . command and see what I'm getting:

enter image description here

Then I wrote find . -mindepth 1 -not -regex "^\./\.git.*" to exclude the .git folder and all its contents:

enter image description here

Now that I'm happy with the results, all I had to do is to pass the -delete flag to my find command, resulting in find . -mindepth 1 -not -regex "^\./\.git.*" -delete:

enter image description here

In case you find command does not support -delete flag, then you can achieve the same result with find . -mindepth 1 -not -regex "^\./\.git.*" -print0 | xargs -0 -I {} rm -rf {}

Be warned, don't use `-delete` or `-print0 | xargs -0 -I {} rm -rf {}` 
if you first don't verify that the output you are getting from `find` command
matches your expectations, otherwise, you will lose data.

For my case though, I want to run the command outside of the _site folder; thus, my final command looks like so:

find ./_site -mindepth 1 -not -regex "^\.\/_site\/\.git.*" -delete

That could also work: find ./_site -mindepth 1 -not -regex "^.*\/.git.*" -delete, but it would also preserve any .git folder you may have in any subfolder of the folder you want to clean up.

I hope it helps!



You can do this by using the command rm -r !(app/public/uploads). Let me know if this works.


  • I tired but it's not working Mar 31, 2016 at 9:52
  • This is working for me, try getting into app/public and use the command
    – manjesh23
    Mar 31, 2016 at 9:53

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