There is some strange behavior while excluding path from find:

find ~ -not -path "~/sandboxes/*" -name 'some-file.vmdk'


find: ‘/home/user/sandboxes/debian7.amd64.buildd/root/...’: Permission denied
find: ‘/home/user/sandboxes/debian7.amd64.buildd/var/...’: Permission denied

What's wrong?

P.S. unfortunately -prune doesn't work too:

find ~ -path "/home/user/sandboxes/*" -prune -o -name 'some-file.vmdk'

gives more weird results:


Useful link

  • Could you replace -path "~/sandboxes/*" with -path "$HOME/sandboxes/*"
    – Inian
    Apr 9, 2019 at 9:55
  • @Inian there is no effect. The same output
    – z0lupka
    Apr 9, 2019 at 10:01
  • Can you confirm you are you looking for regular files named some-file.vmdk only? It may be useful to state explicitly what the expected output is, we may wonder if you want the path /home/user/sandboxes (not its content) to be printed or not.
    – fra-san
    Apr 9, 2019 at 12:35
  • @fra-san Yep, it's about regular files it this case. I want find not to even enter /home/user/sandboxes
    – z0lupka
    Apr 9, 2019 at 13:29

2 Answers 2


Your command

find ~ -path "/home/user/sandboxes/*" -prune -o -name 'some-file.vmdk'



because the default action when no action is supplied is to output the found pathnames. The above pathnames are found, and then those paths are pruned. Pruning a search path does not exclude these pathnames from being printed.

However, if you add -print to the very end, as in

find "$HOME" -path "$HOME/sandboxes" -prune -o -name 'some-file.vmdk' -print

then those pathnames would not be printed. This is because now you have an explicit action (the -print), so no default actions are triggered. The -print only applies to the right hand side of -o.

Note that the * is not needed, and that the variable $HOME is easier to work with than ~, especially in scripts.

Your first command,

find ~ -not -path "~/sandboxes/*" -name 'some-file.vmdk'

very likely does not work as ~ is not expanded within quotes.

Assuming you used $HOME instead, it also does not prune the search path, which means it would still enter ~/sandboxes, but it would never print any pathnames from beneath that path. Since it enters the directory, it would still give you the permission errors when it reaches the inaccessibly directories.

  • Thanks for clarifying! BTW find "$HOME" -path "$HOME/sandboxes" -prune -type f -o -name 'some-file.vmdk' helped too as @fra-san suggested
    – z0lupka
    Apr 9, 2019 at 13:23
  • 1
    @z0lupka Please note that what I wrote in my previous comment is a bit ugly. Semantically, the correct form would be find "$HOME" -path "$HOME/sandboxes" -prune -false -o -name 'some-file.vmdk', where false is used to prevent any action when prune succeeds (sorry for this invasion, Kusalananda).
    – fra-san
    Apr 9, 2019 at 13:34

You can try this way :

find ~ \! -path "*/sandboxes/*" -name 'some-file.vmdk'

Or with -prune :

find ~ -path "*/sandboxes" -prune -o -name 'some-file.vmdk'

but can't find a way to remove the print of ~/sandboxes

  • unfortunately didn't help
    – z0lupka
    Apr 9, 2019 at 13:10

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