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I know how to exclude certain directories from find: find <path> ! -path <path to exclude>. But this can be too tedious to type out when I need to exclude a lot of directories or simply cannot be used when the list of directories I need to exclude are not known ahead of time.

So, say I have a list of directories stored in a variable. Can I use xargs to construct a find command that excludes each of these directories? If so, how?

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  • are we talking a "basic" shell variable like v='file1 file2 file3' or something more complex, like a bash array?
    – Jeff Schaller
    Feb 16 '16 at 17:50
  • did the below answer your question?
    – Jeff Schaller
    Feb 20 '16 at 2:43
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For the 'simple' variable case; note that the directories can't contain whitepace, as that's what separates them inside the variable.

excludes='dir1 dir2 dir3'
findexcl=
set -f
for p in $excludes
do
  findexcl="$findexcl ! -path $p"
done
echo find ... $findexcl ...

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