Suppose I have a link that points to another link that points to another link, etc. way down the line. I'm not sure how many levels of links there are. What's the slick command line way to see the ultimate target of all these links?

5 Answers 5


Some versions of readlink support the -f option to follow the chain to the end. The one on my Debian box does. The one on my Mac OS box does not (but then, it is overridden by one supplied by fink which does).


Maybe it's not the best solution, it depends of your needs. You can retrieve the inode of the end of the chain with:

stat -Lc '%i' the-link

and if you need the path of those files (more than one if the ends of the chain are hard-linked each other) too:

find /search/path/ `stat -Lc '%i' the-link`

Ok, there's a smarter solution:

readlink -f the-file

See my answers here and here for small functions that you can use as starting points to accomplish what you want if you want to see all the intermediate links.


Take a look at this perl script, I think it's what you're looking for.



If you want a more cross-platform solution you can use:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
while [ -h $s ]; do s="$(readlink "$s")"; done
echo $s

Seems inelegant but, as stated by dmckee, Mac OS X doesn’t have the -f option on readlink.

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