If I just use basename {} .txt, it will work:

find . -iname "*.txt" -exec basename {} .txt \;

It will just print xxx instead of ./xxx.txt

if I want use $(basename {} .txt) in the -exec option, it will fail:

find . -iname "*.txt" -exec echo "$(basename {} .txt)" \;

It will just print ./xxx.txt

How can I solve this problem? I hope I can use $(basename {} .txt) as parameters for other cmd. Do I have to do sh -c or pipe -exec basename {} \; with xargs?

  • 3
    Yes, you'll have to use sh or pipe it out. Process substitution takes place before find starts. – muru Dec 25 '14 at 6:03
  • 1
    Is there any more elegant way to do this? – Wang Dec 26 '14 at 3:03
  • If other reading this don't need the suffix-stripping capabilities of basename, you can use -execdir instead of -exec as that holds the current file (not path) in {} (source) – Sam May 18 '20 at 15:29


find -iname "*.txt" -exec sh -c 'for f do basename -- "$f" .txt;done' sh {} +

Your first command failed, because $(...) run in subshell, which treat {} as literal. so basename {} .txt return {}, your find became:

find . -iname "*.txt" -exec echo {} \;

which print file name matched.

  • I think you're missing a path on that proposed solution. Perhaps it should start find . -iname. Thanks! – neillb Feb 29 '16 at 0:56

You can still use $() for command substitution if you use sh -c and single quotes:

find . -iname "*.txt" -exec sh -c 'echo "$(basename {} .txt)"' \;

The single quotes prevent the main shell from executing the sub-command inside $() so it can instead be executed by sh -c after the find command has replaced {} with the file name. See this answer on Stack Overflow for a more thorough explanation.

Note that you can also add double quotes inside the $() to handle spaces in file names:

find . -iname "*.txt" -exec sh -c 'echo "$(basename "{}" .txt)"' \;

Instead, there is another way by using bash pipelines and xargs command:

    find . -iname '*.txt' | xargs -L1 -I{} basename "{}"

In the xargs command above:

The -L1 argument means executing the output of the find command line by line.

The -I{} argument is intended to wrap the output of the find command with double quotes to avoid bash word splitting (when filenames contain whitespace).

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