For the purpose of testing, I'd like count how many images files are inside a directory, separating each image file type by file extension (jpg="yes". This because later it will be useful for another script that will execute an action on each file extension). Can I use something like the following for only JPEG files?

count=`ls -1 *.jpg 2>/dev/null | wc -l`
if [ $count != 0 ]
echo jpg files found: $count ; jpg="yes"

Considering file extensions jpg, png, bmp, raw and others, should I use a while cycle to do this?

9 Answers 9


My approach would be:

  1. List all files in the directory
  2. Extract their extension
  3. Sort the result
  4. Count the occurrences of each extension

Sort of like this (last awk call is purely for formatting):

ls -q -U | awk -F . '{print $NF}' | sort | uniq -c | awk '{print $2,$1}'

(assuming GNU ls here for the -U option to skip sorting as an optimisation. It can be safely removed without affecting functionality if not supported).

  • mhmh... later should I filter each extension found for do an action for it? Jul 26, 2014 at 19:24
  • It depends on what you want to do in the end. Can you give more information?
    – groxxda
    Jul 26, 2014 at 19:25
  • My goal: a script that process each extension file (only image file) changing the size from input user data. So, I start from how many jpg files there're, next png, etc. Jul 26, 2014 at 19:27
  • steeldrivers solution may be more appropriate then.
    – groxxda
    Jul 26, 2014 at 19:30
  • 2
    I had both JPG and jpg files, and wanted it recursively so my solution was to write find . -type f | awk -F . '{print tolower($NF)}' | sort | uniq -c | awk '{print $2,":",$1}'
    – Kristian
    May 24, 2017 at 12:40

This recursively traverses files and counts extensions that match:

$ find . -type f | sed -e 's/.*\.//' | sort | uniq -c | sort -n | grep -Ei '(tiff|bmp|jpeg|jpg|png|gif)$'
   6 tiff
   7 bmp
  26 jpeg
  38 gif
  51 jpg
  54 png
  • 1
    This is exactly what I was looking for, thanks a lot! Needed something that could quickly run on the CLI.
    – Carlos F
    Dec 10, 2020 at 14:57

I'd suggest a different approach, avoiding the possible word-splitting issues of ls


shopt -s nullglob

for ext in jpg png gif; do 
  files=( *."$ext" )
  printf 'number of %s files: %d\n' "$ext" "${#files[@]}"

  # now we can loop over all the files having the current extension
  for f in "${files[@]}"; do
    # anything else you like with these files


You can loop over the files array with any other commands you want to perform on the files of each particular extension.

More portably - or for shells that don't provide arrays explicitly - you could re-use the shell's positional parameter array i.e.

set -- *."$ext"

and then replace ${#files[@]} and ${files[@]} with $# and "$@"

find -type f | sed -e 's/.*\.//' | sort | uniq -c
  • 3
    Don't forget a starting directory with find. Also, it can help future readers of these answers if you give a brief explanation of your solution (in case they would like to modify it for a slightly different case).
    – Jeff Schaller
    Oct 22, 2015 at 16:04
  • How well does this solution deal with path names containing spaces? Newlines?
    – dhag
    Oct 22, 2015 at 17:37
  • 1
    find defaults to the current directory, which is how I use this. I don't think God intended filenames to have spaces in them, but this works fine for that case. If you have newlines, then you deserve all you get. I thought about an explanation but decided it would make the answer too long, I think simplicity is what matters. 99% of the cases in 1% of the time. This is probably Version 7 compatible.
    – Neik
    Oct 22, 2015 at 21:22

Anything involving ls is likely to produce unexpected results with special chars (space and other symbols). Any bashism (like arrays) isn't portable. Anything involving while read is usually slow.

On the other hand, find is VERY flexible (lots of options to filter), it has [at least] two syntax which are fail safe for special chars... and It scales well on large directory.

For this example, I have used -iname to match both upper and lower case extension name. I have also restricted the -maxdepth 1 to respect your question's "in current directory". Rather than counting the number of lines, where filenames could include CR/LF, -print0 will print a NULL byte at the end of each filename... so | tr -d -c "\000" | wc -l is accurately counting files (NULL bytes!).

extensions="jpg png gif"
for ext in $extensions; do
  c=$(find . -maxdepth 1 -iname "*.$ext" -print0 | tr -d -c "\000" | wc -c)
  if [ $c -gt 0 ]; then
    echo "Found $c  *.$ext files"

    find . -maxdepth 1 -iname "*.$ext" -print0 | xargs -0 -r -n1 DOSOMETHINGHERE
    # or #  find . -maxdepth 1 -iname "*.$ext" -exec "ls" "-l" "{}" ";"

P.S. -print0 | tr -d -c "\000" | wc -c can be replaced with -printf "\000" | wc -c or even -printf '\n' | wc -l.


Maybe it can get shorter

exts=( *.jpg *.png *.gif ); printf "There are ${#exts[@]}" extensions;

can just use ls for something this simple IMO

ls -l /opt/ssl/certs/*.pem | wc -l


count=$(ls -l /some/folder/*.jpg | wc -l)


ls *.{mp3,exe,mp4} 2>/dev/null | wc -l

Usually this type of task is best solved by breaking it up into chunks (the Unix philosophy). Find the files, strip out all but their extensions, sort alphabetically (to break ties) then by number of occurrences:

find . -type f | egrep -o '\.[^/.]+$' | sort | uniq -c | sort -n

You might like additional flourishes. I removed files which are only extension (like .gitignore), combined results by case (so gif and GIF are both under gif), and stripped out the initial dot:

find . -type f | egrep -v '^\.' | egrep -o '\.[^/.]+$' | tr 'A-Z' 'a-z' | sed -e 's/^\.//' | sort | uniq -c | sort -n

You might instead choose to limit to certain image types

find . -type f -iname '*.jpg' -o -iname '*.jpeg' -o -iname '*.png' -o -iname '*.bmp' -o -iname '*.raw' -o -iname '*.gif' | egrep -o '\.[^.]+$' | uniq -c | sort -n

Hopefully these are both useable of themselves and show how to combine the various utilities into a nice result.


If you are sure of the extension, you can go with find like

find *.jpeg | wc -l
  • until someone creates touch $'foo\nbar.jpeg and it gets counted twice instead of once. Or worse, someone does mkdir directory.jpeg; touch directory.jpeg/{1..100}.txt
    – Jeff Schaller
    Jan 31, 2019 at 12:16
  • 1
    find . -maxdepth 1 -type f -name '*.jpeg' | wc -l Feb 25, 2020 at 19:58

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .