I would like to create symbolic links (ln -s) to all files (or a class of files, e.g. ending with .bar) in a certain directory. Say I'm in the cwd and type ls ../source/*.bar gives me


how can I pass the parameter list to ln -s that it finally resolves to

ln -s ../source/foo.bar
ln -s ../source/baz.bar

Of course I know I can write a bash script, but there should be something simpler involving xargs or so since it seems to be a common task - at least for me.


ln does take multiple arguments, but don't forget to give a target directory in that case.

So, in your example . is the target directory, so it should be as easy as

ln -s ../source/*.bar .

From man ln; the command above uses the 3rd form:

ln [OPTION]... [-T] TARGET LINK_NAME   (1st form)
ln [OPTION]... TARGET                  (2nd form)
ln [OPTION]... TARGET... DIRECTORY     (3rd form)
ln [OPTION]... -t DIRECTORY TARGET...  (4th form)
  • In the 1st form, create a link to TARGET with the name LINK_NAME.
  • In the 2nd form, create a link to TARGET in the current directory.
  • In the 3rd and 4th forms, create links to each TARGET in DIRECTORY.
  • 5
    You just saved me 5 solid minutes of my life, worth enough to spend one of them leaving a comment. :-) – moodboom Mar 24 '15 at 20:47
  • This doesn't work if there are no files *.bar. It will create a link with the name "*.bar", which is not what you want. – Nimrod May 9 '17 at 16:28
  • 1
    @Nimrod: That's true, but you can tell bash that you want it to report an error instead via shopt -s failglob; see e.g. unix.stackexchange.com/a/216227/33390 (The equivalent in zsh is setopt nomatch, which is turned on by default) – mpy May 9 '17 at 17:25
  • :clapping: nice! – Chris Schmitz Mar 5 at 17:28

Use find

find -name "*.bar" -exec ln -s {} "$certainDir" \;

Also, remember to use full paths (where possible) with symlinks.

  • 2
    Thanks, but isn't it find $certainDir -name "*.bar" -exec ln -s {} \;? And why should I use full paths? I find it quite convenient to know that links stay intact when I move a directory tree around wihch has some internal links. – dastrobu Aug 19 '13 at 8:56
  • That depends where you want to symlink the directories. And I can't remember why full paths are a good idea, it might have been for hard links but I burned that into my mind for a reason. Hmmm. – justbrowsing Aug 19 '13 at 8:59
  • Thanks, your answer is great. Since mpy's answer is the simpler solution to the question, the point goes to him/her. I would accept both answers, if I could. – dastrobu Aug 19 '13 at 9:07

You can try recursively either with using globstar (bash/zsh set by: shopt -s globstar):

ls -vs ../**/*.bar .

Note: Added -v for verbose.

Or if the list is too long, using find utility:

find .. -name \*.bar -exec ln -vs "{}" dest/ ';'

This will create links in dest/, or change it to . for current folder.

  • The second one is the correct answer. – Nimrod May 9 '17 at 16:35

cp with -s option can create a soft links (or -l for hard links).

From current directory can by used like this:

$ cp -s ../path/with/scripts/* .

In your case it will be like this:

$ cp -s ../source/*.bar .

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