I've a bash file on my project root with this line

$ ls | grep -P '^some_pattern_matching_regex_goeshere.txt$' | xargs rm -f

The above line removes all the .txt files from the project root but when I push all the .txt files to another folder e.g process_logs/ and try the same commands with ls, grep and rm its doesn't work.

This is what I tried but not worked to removed files on the process_logs directory.

 $ ls process_logs/ | grep -P '^some_pattern_matching_regex_goeshere.txt$' | xargs rm -f

N.B: I've also tried the command with simple regex pattern like ls process_logs/ | grep -P '^*.txt$' | xargs rm -f to remove files from directory but It doesn't work though.


Try using find instead. If you don't want find to be recursive, you can use depth options:

find /process_logs -maxdepth 1 -mindepth 1 -type f -name 'some_shell_glob_pattern_here' -delete

Parsing the output of ls is not recommended because ls is not always accurate because ls prints a human-readable version of the filename, which may not match the actual filename. For more info see the parsing ls wiki article.


I agree with using find is the better option. But I want to add why your command is not working.

Your command:

$ ls process_logs/ | grep -P '^some_pattern_matching_regex_goeshere.txt$' | xargs rm -f

ls outputs filenames without the path. But you don't add the path to rm. So it will try to delete file names from your subdirectory in your current/ root directory.


$ cd process_logs/; ls | grep -P '^some_pattern_matching_regex_goeshere.txt$' | xargs rm -f


$ ls process_logs/ | grep -P '^some_pattern_matching_regex_goeshere.txt$' | xargs -i rm -f "process_logs/{}"
  • Though I'll use find but your answer is very clear to me why my approach with ls doesn't work, thanks :) Apr 28 '18 at 12:32

If you have a simple shell filename globbing pattern, just use that.

E.g. (the * may be replaced by some more precise pattern),

rm -f process_logs/*.txt

or, if there are hundred of thousands of files, use xargs:

printf '%s\0' process_logs/*.txt | xargs -0 rm -f

If you absolutely need to use a regular expression, GNU find may do that with

find process_logs -maxdepth 1 -type f -regex '\.txt$' -delete

Note that the -regex predicate matches against the complete pathname, not just the filename portion at the end (which is why I anchored the expression to the end of the pathname with $). See also the -regextype option in the GNU find manual.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.