Can anyone tell me how to traverse subfolders and identify fastq files using bash script:


I will be passing only the base directory /project/samples/ to my bash script and I need to traverse through the sub folders to get the fastq files.

3 Answers 3


With find command:

find /project/samples/ -name "*.fastq"

In bash (not plain sh), you can use the **/ wildcard pattern to traverse directories recursively. You need to set the globstar option first. For example, to run mycommand on every .fastq file under /project/samples:

shopt -s globstar
for x in /project/samples/**/*.fastq; do
  mycommand "$x"

This is only available since bash 4.0 (so not on the default bash on OSX, but the feature is also available in zsh). In bash versions before 4.3, beware that it also traverses symbolic links to directories.

If you need to run a single command on all the files, you can:

mycommand /project/samples/**/*.fastq

However you may run into a limit on the length of the command line. It helps to use a relative path:

cd /project/samples
mycommand **/*.fastq

If that still doesn't fit, you'll need to find another solution to do whatever you need to do, that doesn't involve passing all the file names as arguments to that command at once.


if [ ! -d "$1" ]; then
    printf 'Not a directory: %s\n' "$1" >&2
    exit 1

find "$1" -type f -name "*.fastq" -print

This is a small script that will simply list the fastq files in the given directory.

If you want to execute a command for each file, the simplest way would be to change the find to

find "$1" -type f -name "*.fastq" -exec utility {} ';'

Where utility is some program that takes the path of a fastq file on the command line ({} will be substituted for the path of the fastq file).

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