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I am trying to remove all vim swap file *.swp and remove them with a confirmation. The find command found the files, but rm says No such file or directory with the -i option. When I hardcode the path of the file and just use rm -i then it seems to work.

See below

(doors)hobbes3@hobbes3 ~/Sites $ find mysite mysite_BAK -name *.swp -exec 'rm -i {}' \;
find: rm -i mysite/templates/.base.html.swp: No such file or directory
find: rm -i mysite/templates/doors/orders/.create.html.swp: No such file or directory
find: rm -i mysite/templates/doors/orders/.detail.html.swp: No such file or directory
find: rm -i mysite/templates/doors/orders/.list.html.swp: No such file or directory
(doors)hobbes3@hobbes3 ~/Sites $ rm -i mysite/templates/.base.html.swp 
remove mysite/templates/.base.html.swp? n

I guess I'm doing something wrong with the -exec option. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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Actually I just tried without the -i option and it still gave the same errors. Hmmm... –  hobbes3 Mar 25 '12 at 7:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The error is generated by find, not rm.

The reason is that you have written it so 'rm -i <file>' is the single argument. This shall be rewritten:

find mysite mysite_BAK -name *.swp -exec rm -i '{}' \;

so find gets multiple arguments after "-exec" and treats the first one as command and others as the command arguments.

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A simple solution. Thanks. –  hobbes3 Mar 25 '12 at 7:54
You can also leave out the quotes around {} –  Bernhard Mar 25 '12 at 9:17

I usually find it easier to use simple tools combined

cd to dir and then:

rm -i `find . | grep .swp$`

its easier to remember (if performance is not an issue)!

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In your case, I would run,

find mysite mysite_BAK -type f -name .\*.sw? -exec rm -i {} ";"

VIM's swap file does not only end in .swp. If .swp exists, VIM would create .swo, then .swn, and so on. Also, swap files are prefixed with a dot (.), e.g., .file1.rb.swp

Other ways to find and delete VIM's swap files, without the confirmation (-i):

find some_dir -type f -name .\*.sw? | xargs rm 
find some_dir -type f -name .\*.sw? -exec rm {} ";"
find some_dir -type f -name .\*.sw? -delete  # -delete option does not work in Git Bash

Without "-type f", you would get an error when deleting a directory. Also, the \ in .\*.sw? makes it compatible in multiple platforms.

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