I'm trying to write a script that will loop through all subfolders of a directory to search for a specific file and then copy a new file to those folders that contain that file.

This is what I have so far:

find "$dir" -name Sample.doc -printf "%p\n" | sort -nr | while read -r i; do
  echo "$i"

This works to list all the Sample.doc files and their folders within the Documents folder.

However, I cannot find a way to extract the path from those folders to copy the new file into them.

Any help would be appreciated.


I think you are almost there. You can replace %p with %h in the -printf expression :

%h : Leading directories of file's name (all but the last element). If the file name contains no slashes (since it is in the current directory) the %h specifier expands to ".".

so the command would be something like :

find "$dir" -name Sample.doc -printf "%h\n" | sort -nr | while read -r i; do cp SomeFile "$i"; done

by the way, why is the sort part needed ?


The dirname command removes the filename from the full path


Using %h instead %p has already been suggested in another answer, but I'd like to add some improvements to make your code more robust. If, for instance, a matching directory contains a newline character in its name, you will in the best-case end up missing directories and getting some error messages from cp. At worst, you might override files anywhere on your system.

So instead, try doing it like this:

find "$dir" -name Sample.doc -printf "%h\0" | xargs --null -L1 cp SomeFile

The ACSII zero is guaranteed to never show up in any filenames, so unlike \n it works as a reliable separator for passing the paths. --null tells xargs to use the \0 as a input delimiter. It will then execute the given command (cp Somefile) once per item passed through the pipe, while appending the respective item as additional argument.


In bash:

shopt -s nullglob globstar
for i in "$dir"/**/Sample.doc
    cp 'new file' "$(dirname "$i")"/

In fish:

for i in $dir/**Sample.doc
    cp 'new file' (dirname $i)/

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