I know you are able to see the byte size of a file when you do a long listing with ll or ls -l. But I want to know how much storage is in a directory including the files within that directory and the subdirectories within there, etc. I don't want the number of files, but instead the amount of storage those files take up.

So I want to know how much storage is in a certain directory recursively? I'm guessing, if there is a command, that it would be in bytes.

  • vifm is the winner here. use ga option
    – Akhil
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 5:42

14 Answers 14


Try doing this: (replace dir with the name of your directory)

du -s  dir

That gives the cumulative disk usage (not size) of unique (hards links to the same file are counted only once) files (of any type including directory though in practice only regular and directory file take up disk space).

That's expressed in 512-byte units with POSIX compliant du implementations (including GNU du when POSIXLY_CORRECT is in the environment), but some du implementations give you kibibytes instead. Use -k to guarantee you get kibibytes.

For the size (not disk usage) in bytes, with the GNU implementation of du or compatible:

du -sb dir

or (still not standard):

du -sh dir

For human readable sizes (disk usage).

See man du (link here is for the GNU implementation).

  • 5
    add -b to output in bytes
    – pcnate
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 21:47
  • 4
    --all list all files and -h shows file size in human readable format du -h --all
    – Praneeth
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 1:29
  • 2
    To get size of all directories, use du -sh *. Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 18:00
  • 1
    Is it correct to assume this will sum up all mounted partitions on any folder which is a subdirectory? Say you du -s /mount, will this give the total of all mounted files in said directory? What about sshfs mounts, in the same way?
    – mazunki
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 12:01
  • 1
    What is the difference between disk usage and size?
    – Lou
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 8:44

You just do:

du -sh /path/to/directory

where -s is for summary and -h for human readable (non standard option). Use standard -k instead to get KiB.

Be careful however, (unlike ls) this will not show you file size but disk usage (i.e. a multiple of the filesystem block-size). The file itself may actually be smaller, or even bigger.

So to get the files size, you can use the --apparent-size option:

du -sh --apparent-size /path/to/directory

This is the size that would be transferred over the network if you had to.

Indeed, the file may have "holes" in it (empty shell), may be smaller than the filesystem block-size, may be compressed at the filesystem level, etc. The man page explains this.

As Nicklas points out, you may also use the ncdu disk usage analyser. Launched from within a directory it will show you what folders and files use disk space by ordering them biggest to smallest.

You can see this question as well.

  • I get a lot of cannot read directory, permission denied is it safe to use sudo du?
    – Shayan
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 14:33
  • 1
    @Shayan it is not dangerous, but will not give you the information about storage. Is that what you mean by "safe"?
    – Totor
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 2:07
  • 1
    I was scared sudo du might change the ownership of everything to root or something else unexpected. @Totor
    – Shayan
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 6:20
  • 2
    @Shayan no, it is purely a "read only" tool. No risk to modify data nor metadata here. :)
    – Totor
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 11:36

Note that if you want to know all {sub}folders size inside a directory, you can also use the -dor --max-depth option of du (which take an argument: the recursive limit)

For instance :

du -h /path/to/directory -d 1

Will show you something like

4.0K /path/to/directory/folder1
16M  /path/to/directory/folder2
2.4G /path/to/directory/folder3
68M  /path/to/directory/folder4
8G   /path/to/directory/folder5

PS: Entering 0 as the recursive limit is equivalent to the -s option. Those 2 commands will give you the same result (your given directory recursive human readable size):

du -h /path/to/directory -d 0
du -sh /path/to/directory
  • 1
    -d 1 needs to be before directory path Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 9:17
  • 3
    Needs? It works for me after the directory path, on ubuntu/debian. It is nicer though to have it before, I agree
    – Flo Schild
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 21:53

This will give you a list of sizes from current directory, including folders(recursive) and files.

$ du -hs *
7.5M    Applications
9.7M    Desktop
 85M    Documents
 12G    Google Drive
 52G    Library
342M    Movies
8.3M    Music
780M    Pictures
8.5G    Projects
8.0K    Public
 16K    client1.txt
  • 11
    to order by size: du -hs * | sort -hs
    – Kaiser
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 13:16

An alternative to the already mentioned du command would be ncdu which is a nice disk usage analyzer for use in terminal. You may need to install it first, but it is available in most of the package repositories.

Edit: For the output format see these screenshots http://dev.yorhel.nl/ncdu/scr

  • 1
    Miracle! With this I can see which folders that is holding high volume of disk size storage. I even also found all of my files that were mysteriously disappeared. Great tool it is.
    – Faron
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 1:53

I like the following approach:

du -schx .[!.]* * | sort -h


  • s: display only a total for each argument
  • c: produce a grand total
  • h: print sizes in a human-readable format
  • x: skip directories on different file systems
  • .[!.]* *: Summarize disk usage of each file, recursively for directories (including "hidden" ones)
  • | sort -h: Sort based on human-readable numbers (e.g., 2K 1G)

In Unix, a directory just contains names and references to filesystem objects (inodes, which can refer to directories, files, or some other exotic things). A file can appear under several names in the same directory, or be listed in several directories. So "space used by the directory and the files inside" really makes no sense, as the files aren't "inside".

That said, the command du(1) lists the space used by a directory and all what is reachable through it, du -s gives a summary, with -h some implementations like GNU du give "human readable" output (i.e., kilobyte, megabyte).


For me it worked backwards in the case of the depth and the path on a OS X El Capitán

du -h -d 1 /path/to/directory

ncdu (ncurses du)

ncdu was previously mentioned at https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/67843/32558 but I think that incredible tool needs deserves a longer description.

This awesome CLI utility allows you to easily find the large files and directories (recursive total size) interactively.

For example, from inside the root of a well known open source project we do:

sudo apt install ncdu

The outcome its:

enter image description here

Then, I enter down and right on my keyboard to go into the /drivers folder, and I see:

enter image description here

ncdu only calculates file sizes recursively once at startup for the entire tree, so it is efficient. This way don't have to recalculate sizes as you move inside subdirectories as you try to determine what the disk hog is.

"Total disk usage" vs "Apparent size" is analogous to du, and I have explained it at: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/5694741/why-is-the-output-of-du-often-so-different-from-du-b/55514003#55514003

Project homepage: https://dev.yorhel.nl/ncdu

Related questions:

Tested in Ubuntu 16.04.

Ubuntu list root

You likely want:

ncdu --exclude-kernfs -x /


  • -x stops crossing of filesystem barriers
  • --exclude-kernfs skips special filesystems like /sys

MacOS 10.15.5 list root

To properly list root / on that system, I also needed --exclude-firmlinks, e.g.:

brew install ncdu
cd /
ncdu --exclude-firmlinks

otherwise it seemed to go into some link infinite loop, likely due to: https://www.swiftforensics.com/2019/10/macos-1015-volumes-firmlink-magic.html

The things we learn for love.

ncdu non-interactive usage

Another cool feature of ncdu is that you can first dump the sizes in a JSON format, and later reuse them.

For example, to generate the file run:

ncdu -o ncdu.json

and then examine it interactively with:

ncdu -f ncdu.json

This is very useful if you are dealing with a very large and slow filesystem like NFS.

This way, you can first export only once, which can take hours, and then explore the files, quit, explore again, etc.

The output format is just JSON, so it is easy to reuse it with other programs as well, e.g.:

ncdu -o -  | python -m json.tool | less

reveals a simple directory tree data structure:

        "progname": "ncdu",
        "progver": "1.12",
        "timestamp": 1562151680
            "asize": 4096,
            "dev": 2065,
            "dsize": 4096,
            "ino": 9838037,
            "name": "/work/linux-kernel-module-cheat/submodules/linux"
            "asize": 1513,
            "dsize": 4096,
            "ino": 9856660,
            "name": "Kbuild"
                "asize": 4096,
                "dsize": 4096,
                "ino": 10101519,
                "name": "net"
                    "asize": 4096,
                    "dsize": 4096,
                    "ino": 11417591,
                    "name": "l2tp"
                    "asize": 48173,
                    "dsize": 49152,
                    "ino": 11418744,
                    "name": "l2tp_core.c"

Tested in Ubuntu 18.04.


You can use "file-size.sh" from the awk Velour library:

ls -ARgo "$@" | awk '{q += $3} END {print q}'

This works:

To get the size of each directory under current directory.

du -h --max-depth=1 .

In general:

du -h --max-depth=1 <dirpath>

This is the best for me:

find . -type d -exec du -sk \"{}\" \;

You will get all the dirs recursively with at the top the root dir size:

588591456   ./photo
2171676 ./photo/2004
163916  ./photo/2004/AAA
114252  ./photo/2004/BBB
49660   ./photo/2004/CCC
7238148 ./photo/2005
184 ./photo/2005/.thumbcache
33592   ./photo/2005/AAA
228 ./photo/2005/BBB


To find the total size of the files contained in a folder recursively, omitting symlinks, directory size and implied . and .., I customized the Zombo answer above:

ls -ARgo "$@" | awk '{if ($1 ~ /^-/) {q += $3}} END {print q}'

I needed this to check the upload of the local storage of a web application to a blob storage (Azure) comparing files size in bytes of the remote and the local directories (the Azure blob storage in use don't store file in directories, so I needed to sum just the file size).

To do this, it sums just ls size column rows starting with - character, so:

ls -ARgo list recursively (R) the content of a directory in byte size, omitting implied . and .. (A), without listing owner (g) and groups (o) columns.

~/Scrivania/my_folder$ ls -ARgo
total 1020
-rw-rw-r-- 1 894543 gen  9 09:53 photo.png
-rw-rw-r-- 1 141318 feb  1 09:28 ryxbb3kkit1nfnxwzu7i.webp
drwxrwxr-x 2   4096 feb  1 11:52 sub_folder

total 864
-rw-rw-r-- 1 137859 gen 13 10:26  186_20230106_corsi_Arogis.pdf
-rw-rw-r-- 1 257591 ott 20 12:49 '2010-03-27 - Piano Formativo SNaTSS-1-1.pdf'
-rw-rw-r-- 1 484746 ott 19 16:02  CNCOyXtu.html

The awk function sums the third column ($3) of each resulting ls row, if the first column ($1) matches a dash -.

It seems to be enough for my purpose, but, be careful that:

  • this is not properly disk usage, no folders or system functional files computed
  • it will not follow symlinks (need to change the regex inside awk)

Including various parts of the other provided answers, here is my suggested command:

cd /path/to/directory/of/interest
sudo du -hsc *

This will list all the directories and the recursive size

  • 1
    As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 20:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .