I Tried to delete files that starts with A and ends with 2 numbers but It doesn't do a thing.
What I tried:

rm ^A*[0..9]2$

Where am I wrong?


You can use the following command to delete all files matching your criteria:

ls | grep -P "^A.*[0-9]{2}$" | xargs -d"\n" rm

How it works:

  1. ls lists all files (one by line since the result is piped).

  2. grep -P "^A.*[0-9]{2}$" filters the list of files and leaves only those that match the regular expression ^A.*[0-9]{2}$

    • .* indicates any number of occurrences of ., where . is a wildcard matching any character.

    • [0-9]{2} indicates exactly two occurrences of [0-9], that is, any digit.

  3. xargs -d"\n" rm executes rm line once for every line that is piped to it.

Where am I wrong?

For starters, rm doesn't accept a regular expression as an argument. Besides the wildcard *, every other character is treated literally.

Also, your regular expression is slightly off. For example, * means any occurrences of ... in a regular expression, so A* matches A, AA, etc. and even an empty string.

For more information, visit Regular-Expressions.info.

  • 3
    Beware of spaces in file names. – slhck Feb 22 '12 at 18:27
  • 1
    The -d"\n switch fixes the spaces problem. – Frg Feb 22 '12 at 19:14
  • 1
    Note - some distros (like Mac OS) don't have a grep -P (Perl regex). grep -E may work in this case. – bluescrubbie Oct 2 '13 at 20:59
  • 1
    I prefer using -I with xargs and always test with non-lethal commands first: xargs -d"\n" -I {} echo "{}" – jozxyqk Mar 24 '14 at 5:40
  • 1
    Parsing ls? See this question which points to this article. Because of the pitfalls you may rm what you don't want to. – Kamil Maciorowski Nov 15 '16 at 11:57

Or using find:

find your-directory/ -name 'A*[0-9][0-9]' -delete

This solution will deal with weird file names.

  • 9
    This is a great solution. I prefer it because it is simpler and you can omit the -delete flag at the end first to see if your regex is correct before mass deleting your files. – JAMESSTONEco Apr 14 '15 at 21:31
  • 1
    Furthermore you have more control on what you delete, for example adding -type f – Marco Sulla Jun 8 '16 at 8:12
  • Can this be used to delete files and folders? It does not work for non empty folders. – Alex Sep 9 '17 at 11:46
  • @Alex nope, the directory must be empty (it wasn't an OP requirement anyway), you can use the xargs approach with rm -f. – cYrus Sep 9 '17 at 13:54
  • also obligatory link to article about parsing ls – qwr Feb 25 '20 at 21:48

See the filename expansion section of the bash man page:

rm A*[0-9][0-9]
  • worked nicely for me. – Nishanth Matha Mar 15 '17 at 6:09
  • This was the simplest, yet complete answer to the question. – Janac Meena Oct 17 '17 at 17:22
  • Will this work if the folder has a lot of files? – Itay Sep 3 '19 at 18:05

The solution with regexp is 200 times better, even with that you can see which file will be deleted before using the command, cutting off the final pipe:

ls | grep -P "^A.*[0-9]{2}$"

Then if it's correct just use:

ls | grep -P "^A.*[0-9]{2}$" | xargs -d "\n" rm

This is 200 times better because if you work with Unix it's important to know how to use grep. It's very powerful if you know how to use it.

  • 1
    This doesn't seem to add much beyond what Dennis's 4 year old answer already says. – 8bittree Nov 16 '16 at 19:48
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    "200 times" is a pretty specific. Lots of other commands are very powerful too, all you need to do is learn how to use them. – glenn jackman Mar 15 '17 at 11:22

This works on my mac:

rm $(ls | grep -e '^A*[0..9]2$')


find command works with regexes as well.

Check which files are gonna to be deleted

find . -regex '^A.*[0-9]{2}$'

Delete files

find . -regex '^A.*[0-9]{2}$' -delete
  • This one doesn't work in it's current form. You need to define -regextype egrep to make {x,y} type quantifiers work. – Gergely Lukacsy Jul 10 '20 at 15:05

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