I have seen this answer.

You should consider using inotifywait, as an example:

inotifywait -m /path -e create -e moved_to |
    while read path action file; do
        echo "The file '$file' appeared in directory '$path' via '$action'"
        # do something with the file

My question is that, the above script watches a directory for creation of files of any type, but how do I modify the inotifywait command to report only when a file of certain type/extension is created (or moved into the directory) - e.g. it should report when any .xml file is created.


I have run the inotifywait --help command, and have read the command line options. It has --exclude <pattern> and --excludei <pattern> commands to EXCLUDE files of certain types (by using regEx), but I need a way to INCLUDE just the files of a certain type/extension.

  • BTW, using path above is probably not the best variable name if you want to play with this first in a shell. If you use it, then you will not be able to use commands and everything since this has basically just overridden the standard PATH. Hence I recommend using an alternative var name, like fpath instead. i.e. while read fpath action file then any standard command usually available from your shell will still be. Oct 9 '18 at 9:17
  • it is kind of ridiculous that there isn't an include option.
    – erandros
    Sep 9 '19 at 18:12
  • They finally added an --include option, as per @ericcurtin's answer below. Jun 28 '20 at 15:43

how do I modify the inotifywait command to report only when a file of certain type/extension is created

Please note that this is untested code since I don't have access to inotify right now. But something akin to this ought to work:

inotifywait -m /path -e create -e moved_to |
    while read path action file; do
        if [[ "$file" =~ .*xml$ ]]; then # Does the file end with .xml?
            echo "xml file" # If so, do your thing here!
  • 3
    This does work and I have tested it with inotifywait. Apr 7 '17 at 19:42
  • 2
    How do you run this? Is it a one-time command, or does it need to be running in a loop or anything like that? Perhaps as part of incron (I hope not).
    – SDsolar
    Nov 20 '17 at 0:25
  • @SDsolar It varies. For me, I usually run inotify either with nohup or start it with a custom systemd service. Most often the latter. Sep 12 '18 at 14:25
  • what's the diff between inotify and inotifywait?
    – user359907
    Mar 4 '20 at 8:10

Whilst the double-negative approach of the previous answer is a nice idea since (as TMG noted) it does indeed shift the job of filtering to inotifywait, it is not correct.

For example, if a file ends in as then it will not match [^j][^s]$ because the final letter s does not match [^s], therefore it will not be excluded.

In Boolean terms, if S is the statement:

"the final letter is s"

and J is the statement:

"the penultimate letter is j"

then the value of the --exclude parameter should semantically equate to not(J and S), which by De Morgan's laws is not(J) or not(S).

Another potential problem is that in zsh, $path is a built-in variable representing the array equivalent of $PATH, so the while read path ... line will completely mess up $PATH and cause everything to become unexecutable from the shell.

Therefore the correct approach is:

inotifywait -m --exclude "[^j].$|[^s]$" /path -e create -e moved_to |
    while read dir action file; do
        echo "The file '$file' appeared in directory '$dir' via '$action'"

Note the . which is needed after [^j] to ensure that the match is applied in the penultimate position, and also that the | character (representing the boolean OR mentioned above) should not be escaped here because --exclude takes POSIX extended regular expressions.

However, please see and upvote @ericcurtin's answer which for newer versions of inotifywait is a far cleaner approach.

  • What if your code is C code and you want to include .c and .h files
    – ericcurtin
    Jan 24 '20 at 15:12
  • --exclude '[^ch]$|[^.].$' should achieve that (although I haven't tested). Jan 26 '20 at 1:55

Use a double negative:

inotifywait -m --exclude "[^j][^s]$" /path -e create -e moved_to |
    while read path action file; do
        echo "The file '$file' appeared in directory '$path' via '$action'"

This will only include javascript files

  • 3
    Nice, I like that it shifts the filtering to inotifywait rather than have it generate huge output for all files and filter afterwards (like in the other answer). Haven't tried, but I guess that would perform a bit faster.
    – TMG
    Mar 14 '18 at 9:18
  • This is just what I was looking for. How to modify the --exclude input to watch for .ext files. This is run only once or in a for loop? Jul 9 '18 at 4:26
  • It's a daemon, so it will run until it crashes or you shut it down :)
    – tofsjonas
    Jul 10 '18 at 9:30
  • Sorry, missed the first question. inotifywait -m --exclude "[^.][^e][^x][^t]$" /home/jonas/Skrivbord/test -e create -e moved_to | while read path action file; do echo "The file '$file' appeared in directory '$path' via '$action'" done I'm sure the regex can be optimized, but this baby works :)
    – tofsjonas
    Jul 10 '18 at 20:29
  • 2
    As @AdamSpiers notes, this answer is incorrect, because it would trigger on any file ending in jX or Xs (.ja, .jb, .jc… ..as, .bs. .cs…) Aug 25 '20 at 9:16

--include and --includei are actual options in the master version of the binaries at least:


  • 1
    This is by far the best approach now, despite currently being lower-voted than the other answers. Jun 28 '20 at 15:45
  • 2
    Apparently, the include options are only available from version 3.20.1. Aug 25 '20 at 9:30

Starting with inotifywait version 3.20.1 you can use an --include option.

inotifywait example with --include

Here's an example that uses --include to run a script when a wav file is added to a directory.


# Usage
# Call the script with the directory you want to watch as an argument. e.g.:
# watchdir.sh /app/foo/
# Description:
# Uses inotifywait to look for new files in a directory and process them:
# inotifywait outputs data which is passed (piped) to a do for subcommands.
# Requirements:
# Requires inotifywait which is part of inotify-tools.
# e.g. yum install -y inotify-tools or apt-get install -y inotify-tools.
# See also:
# https://linux.die.net/man/1/inotifywait
# https://github.com/inotify-tools/inotify-tools/wiki#info
# (Might be interested in pyinotify too.)

echo "Watch $1 for file changes..."

# Be careful not to confuse the output of `inotifywait` with that of `echo`.
# e.g. missing a `\` would break the pipe and write inotifywait's output, not
# the echo's.
inotifywait \
  $1 \
  --monitor \
  -e create \
  --timefmt '%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S' \
  --format '%T %w %f %e' \
  --include "\.wav" \
| while read datetime dir filename event; do
  echo "Event: $datetime $dir$file $event"
  echo "Now, we could pass $datetime $dir $filename and $event to some other command."

  echo "Here's the extensionless filename:" ${filename%.*}
  echo "And the extension if needed:" ${filename##*.}

  python3 /app/phono.py --custom $dir$filename $dir${filename%.*}.txt /tmp/${filename%.*}

# --format:
#   %T  Replaced with the current Time in the format specified by the --timefmt option, which should be a format string suitable for passing to strftime(3).
#   %w  This will be replaced with the name of the Watched file on which an event occurred.
#   %f  When an event occurs within a directory, this will be replaced with the name of the File which caused the event to occur. Otherwise, this will be replaced with an empty string.
#   %e  Replaced with the Event(s) which occurred, comma-separated.
#   %Xe Replaced with the Event(s) which occurred, separated by whichever character is in the place of 'X'.
# There's no --include option, but there's --exclude, which can be used to the same effect as an include.

# test the script by creating a file in the watched directory, e.g.
# touch /app/foo/file1.wav # will trigger the script
# touch /app/foo/file1.txt # will not trigger the script

Installing (or compiling) inotify-tools

inotifywait is part of inotify-tools. You can install it via the usual way, e.g.:

apt-get install -y inotify-tools


yum install -y inotify-tools

But if only older versions are available from the repos, you may want to compile from source. If so:

cd /tmp/inotify-tools/
wget https://github.com/inotify-tools/inotify-tools/releases/download/
tar xzvf inotify-tools-
cd inotify-tools-
./configure --prefix=/usr --libdir=/lib64
make install

In my case I was trying to filter the output of inotifywait using something like grep, in order to wait for the creation of a single file with a particular extension. The trouble with this approach is that grep will just hang.

For some reason a SIGPIPE signal is either not sent, or not processed by inotifywait. I found this question, which ran into the same issue I had, and process substitution can be used as a workaround:

grep -E .*iso -m1 < <(inotifywait -qm -e create .)

Process substitution does not work in certain shells (eg. sh), so this does not work in every case.

From the other answers given, I could not find the --include option. I will likely be experimenting with --exclude.

  • If your version doesn't have --include, it's too old and you should see if you can upgrade since if you can that will be the easiest solution by far. Aug 24 '20 at 16:17
  • I downloaded a brand new version, which doesn't have it. I see --include now in the source code though. I was originally looking at github.com/inotify-tools/inotify-tools/blob/master/man/… , which does not mention --include in the same way it mentions --exclude.
    – Matt
    Aug 24 '20 at 18:51
  • According to another answer on this page, you need at least 3.20.1. Aug 25 '20 at 19:57

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