I need to create a shell script that executes an application when a file called start is created in a particular directory.

How may I write a shell script that waits for the creation of a file with a certain name in a certain location?

  • I don't think the question is actually about how to create a file called start but how to trigger a script when a file appears with a certain name. Am I right?
    – Kusalananda
    Sep 13, 2017 at 13:00
  • Yes @Kusalananda, correct!! Sep 13, 2017 at 13:03
  • @kumarshivam I reworded the question. Hopefully you will be ok with the new wording.
    – Kusalananda
    Sep 13, 2017 at 13:09
  • 5
    Wouldn't inotify be a good candidate for this. Sep 13, 2017 at 13:18
  • 2
    We should clarify the operating environment here -- @kumar, what OS does this need to run on?
    – Jeff Schaller
    Sep 13, 2017 at 13:23

2 Answers 2


If your system has inotifywait (most Linux distributions, OpenBSD and possibly others), as others have mentioned the least resource-intensive approach is to use inotifywait:

rm -f yourdirectory/start
while [ "$(inotifywait -e create -q --format %f yourdirectory)" != "start" ]; do :; done

That will ensure the start file is removed from yourdirectory, then wait for its creation, and then run yourcommand. -e create specifies that we’re only interested in creation events, -q specifies that we don’t want inotifywait’s diagnostic messages, and --format %f specifies that we only want to see the created file’s name in the output.

If you don’t have inotifywait, the following will work too, with a delay of at most one second:

rm -f yourdirectory/start
while [ ! -e yourdirectory/start ]; do sleep 1; done

I like the tool 'inoticoming' for watching a directory for change. has logging and pid-file creation. you can run command on change with additional 'action-options' it's pretty decent :)

i also remember a tool called 'fileschanged' but never got to play with it, could be worth a look. -Jay

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