I newly learned how to search multiple file names with find like:

find . \( -iname "*.srt" -o -iname "*.mp4" \)

But in some cases I had to use so many filters like this and that simple command line became so long:

find . \( -iname "*.srt" -o ......... \)

Can I create a variable and add this all filters in it, then use it again in find command? Thank you!


3 Answers 3


With the GNU implementation of find, there is another way to search multiple file names:

find . -iregex "$rgx"

The \| is the logical regex OR (in the default regexps types of GNU find which are the emacs ones). A naked . means any char. and a dot is \..

You could define a $rgx_compr and a $rgx_media, and then combine it:

find . -iregex "$rgx_compr" -o -iregex "$rgx_media"

I left out the parens here.


Since you're using a shell that supports array variables (i.e. bash) you can create an array variable and use that directly.

Constant expression

find . \( -iname "*.srt" -o -iname "*.mp4" \) ...

Variable expression

opts=(-iname "*.srt" -o -iname "*.mp4")
find \( "${opts[@]}" \) ...


opts=( '(' -iname "*.srt" -o -iname "*.mp4" ')' )
find "${opts[@]}" ...

Notice that the array variable expansion itself must be double-quoted ("${opts[@]}") even though it contains one or more items. If the array contains no items it will expand to nothing (not the empty string, "").


Yes, it is possible. With the method I show below, take care of the usage of quotations, wildcards, etc. Nonetheless, here is one solution in BASH:

opt="-iname '*.srt' -o -iname '*.mp4'"
find . \( $(eval echo ${opt}) \)

While it is not possible to simply call the ${opt} variable in the find command, we can work around it by using the eval command in $(eval echo ${opt}) line.

  • 2
    This answer has problems. eval is full of traps for the unwary, and I don't recommend using it unless you have a deep understanding of shell parsing. In this case, it'll have trouble if there are matching files directly in the current directory. (And there are some other, weirder problems here.) Dec 31, 2019 at 21:04

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