I'd like to find and delete all core files in some large directory tree.

To do this, I'd like to match files that satisfy a particular file name pattern, like:

find . -name 'core*'

... but once such a file is found, I also want to run the file command on it to make sure it's really a core dump, something like:

file --brief --mime <filename> | grep -q 'application/x-coredump'

If that command succeeds, I'd like to delete the file. Can I do it all within find?

It's important that the behavior is "shortcut": I don't want to run file unless the command matches the pattern, since that would be very slow.

2 Answers 2


find + bash approach:

find / -type f -name "*core*" -exec bash -c \
'[[ `file -bi "$0"` =~ application/x-coredump ]] && echo rm "$0"' {} \;

Remove echo call if you convinced of found "needed" filenames.

Or even shorter - with find's -delete action:

 find / -type f -name "*core*" -exec bash -c \
'[[ `file -bi "$0"` =~ application/x-coredump ]]' {} \; -delete

Sure it's possible:

find . -name '*.core' -type f -exec \
    sh 'if file -bi "$1" | grep -qw ^application/x-coredump; then printf "%s\n" "$1"; fi' \
    sh {} \;

If you're happy with the result replace printf "%s\n" by rm -f.

  • Awesome. I'm also curious however if the check be done within find itself? It saves launching the shell and you can use options like -print0 for filename handling.
    – BeeOnRope
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:54
  • @BeeOnRope - in order to avoid invoking a shell you'd have to write a program that checks the mimetype of each core* file found and returns success if it's application/x-coredump and failure otherwise; you could then run smth like find . -name '*.core' -exec my_app {} \; -print0 Nov 16, 2017 at 23:36
  • @don_crissti - so exec is interpreted as a predicate, per your example: so I could also use the invocation in this answer, but remove the then printf part and move it to -print0? So
    – BeeOnRope
    Nov 16, 2017 at 23:38
  • 1
    @BeeOnRope - exactly, it's executed only if the previous action (-exec blah-blah) returned true. It's all in the manual... Nov 16, 2017 at 23:40
  • stackexchange is my manual :)
    – BeeOnRope
    Nov 17, 2017 at 21:36

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