This is quite a unique one.

I'm looking for a way to list all top-level directories in a folder that contain sub-directories with new or modified files less than 30 days old in them.

We use a replication method to sync user files to a central repository and I'm looking for a way to monitor which users have synced files within the last month. We can then troubleshoot the ones that are not.

I've used "find . -type d -mtime -30" but this lists every sub-folder and the output is too big to provide a concise picture.

Any help would be much appreciated.

  • What operating system are you on? Do you have GNU find?
    – terdon
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 8:32

3 Answers 3


I would use find on each directory in turn, and pipe it to grep -q . to check if there are any results, and print the directory name conditionally upon whether or not there were any results:

for d in */; do find "$d" -type f -mtime -30 | grep -q . && printf %s\\n "$d"; done
  • 1
    Thank you both so much for your replies. This worked perfectly for me.
    – Vard0
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 8:24

This might be not efficient:

find -mindepth 3 -maxdepth 3 -type f -mtime -30 | 
    xargs -n 1 dirname | 
    xargs -n 1 dirname | 
    uniq # (or sort -u, I assume find's output is already sorted)
  • 3
    +1. but use -print0 with find, -0 with xargs AND -z with both dirname and uniq/sort -u (requires a recent-ish version of GNU coreutils)....otherwise this will break on any file/dir name containing spaces/newlines/etc. BTW, find's output isn't sorted, so use sort -z -u. Finally, pipe the output through tr '\000' '\n'. Resulting in find -mindepth 3 -maxdepth 3 -type f -mtime -60 -print0 | xargs -0r -n 1 dirname -z | xargs -0r -n 1 dirname -z | sort -z -u | tr '\000' '\n'
    – cas
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 8:38
find */ -type f -mtime -30 -print0 | 
    sed -z -e  's:/.*$::' | 
    sort -z -u | 
    tr '\000' '\n'

Requires GNU sort and GNU sed for the -z (NUL-separated input) options.

find lists all files in subdirectories of the current directory less than 30 days old. output is piped into sed to remove everything after the first /, then into sort to unique sort the resulting directory names.

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