This might have been answered already. But I wasn't able to find it.

I have:


each directory and subdirectory contains files. I want to list them all, pipe the list to cat, and cat the list to a text file. Can this be done with a 'one liner'? If so, please provide it. Or does it require a script and, if so, what commands/structures will I need to write the script?


I think that your best bet is the find command. If you want just the files and not the directories in your list, something like this:

find directory/ -type f -print > textfile

The find command will recursively list the files. (If you want the directories listed too, remove the -type f). The > textfile redirects stdout to a file named textfile with no need for cat.

find is a powerful tool with many options. See man find if you find that you need to tweak the output slightly.

UPDATE (thanks gvkv):

If you want to put the contents of the files into a single text file, then one way to do it is:

find Documents/ -type f -exec cat {} + > textfile
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  • If you'd like to print only the filename, not the full path, use -printf '%f\n' instead of -print. – Adam Byrtek Sep 20 '10 at 22:53
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    Does the OP want a list of files in the text file or the contents of the files in the text file? I interpreted the question as the latter. – gvkv Sep 20 '10 at 23:57
  • @gvkv good point. I will update my answer. – Steven D Sep 21 '10 at 0:13
  • use xargs instead of -exec for better process efficiency. – jmtd Sep 24 '10 at 22:22
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    @jmtd: According to the man page, the + rather than \; should be roughly the same as using xargs. – Steven D Sep 25 '10 at 2:09

find is the generic way, as Steven D's answer explains. If your shell supports it, ** can be used to match any number of subdirectories (on bash it's the same as * and only matches one by default, but see Dennis' comment), so you can just do:

cat **/*
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  • Dude, where do you learn this stuff? Awesome! – gvkv Sep 20 '10 at 23:56
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    learn this? micheal writes it down here first, then hacks into YOUR ( and everyone elses ) pc and implements the behaviour there. +1 @micheal – Stefan Sep 21 '10 at 7:57
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    Bash 4 will do that if you shopt -s globstar. – Paused until further notice. Sep 21 '10 at 16:06
  • @gvkv: Probably by Reading the Friendly Manual :) – Adam Byrtek Sep 21 '10 at 18:20
  • @Michael Mrozek I've never ventured outside of bash in my 8 years on Linux. I've heard good things about zsh, though. – ixtmixilix Sep 27 '10 at 14:13

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