3

I want to search a directory for some files using find and a regular expression.

If I do

cd dir
find -E . -type f -regex '^\..*[^~]'

I get a list of files in the directory that match the the regular expression.

However, if I do

find -E ~/dir -type f -regex '^\..*[^~]'

i.e.

find -E /home/adam/dir -type f -regex '^\..*[^~]'

I get no output. How do I specify the directory to be searched by find when using a regular expression?

This is BSD find, as I am on a Mac.

5

The argument to -regex has to match the whole path that is found. A command like find . finds paths like ./dir/subdir/somefile, while a command like find ~/dir finds paths like /home/adam/dir/subdir/somefile. So your regexp has to match the /home/adam part at the beginning.

The command find -E . -type f -regex '^\..*[^~]' finds files whose name doesn't contain a newline and doesn't end with ~. The . at the beginning always matches since the path begins with ./.

If you were looking for dot files, you'd need to allow for a directory prefix. The following command shows dot files whose name doesn't end in ~:

find -E /whatever -regex '(\n|.)*/\.[^/]*[^~]'

But this is simpler to express with -name:

find /whatever -name '.*[!~]'
  • I was asked to change ~/dir in my question to $HOME/dir, so you might want to update your answer accordingly. At any rate, thanks for the help! – Adam Liter Jul 20 '14 at 5:43
  • @AdamLiter I don't see the point of using $HOME instead of ~. At least quote it. – Gilles Jul 20 '14 at 5:54
  • I was asked to change my question so that it was more transparent to new users (though the comments have now been deleted). As I'm not really a regular on this site at all, I just went along with the suggestion. And I didn't want anyone to be confused that you have find ~/dir in your answer rather than find $HOME/dir, as is now in my question. I do agree that there doesn't seem to be much of a point in using $HOME instead of ~. All that being said, maybe these comments are now enough so that users won't be confused by the discrepancy, and you can leave your answer as is. Thanks again! – Adam Liter Jul 20 '14 at 6:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.