How To Find A File Recursively In Linux

If you’re a Linux user, you’re probably aware that managing and finding files can be a complex task, especially when dealing with large systems. However, the Linux shell provides powerful tools that can simplify these tasks. Today, we’re going to focus on one such tool – the find command, which allows us to search for files recursively in Linux.

Understanding the ‘find’ Command

The find command in Linux is a powerful utility for locating files and directories based on specified search criteria. It searches the directory tree rooted at each given file name by evaluating the given expression from left to right, according to the rules of precedence, until the outcome is known.

Basic Syntax of the ‘find’ Command

The basic syntax of the find command is as follows:

    find [where to start searching from] [expression determines what to find] [what to find]

For instance, if you’re searching for a file named ‘sample.txt’ in the ‘/home/user’ directory, the command would look like this:

    find /home/user -name sample.txt

Finding Files Recursively

The real power of the ‘find’ command becomes evident when you start searching for files recursively. By default, ‘find’ traverses the file system hierarchy recursively, starting from the specified directory and going down through all its subdirectories.

Suppose we want to find all ‘.txt’ files in the ‘/home/user’ directory and its subdirectories. The command would look like this:

    find /home/user -name "*.txt"

In this command, the -name option tells ‘find’ to search for files whose names match the given pattern, and the asterisk (*) is a wildcard character that matches any number of characters.

Formatting the Output as HTML

Occasionally, you may want to format the output of the ‘find’ command as HTML. For example, you might want to generate a list of files in HTML format. You can achieve this by piping the output of ‘find’ to the ‘awk’ command, which can generate HTML tags around the output lines. Here’s an example:

    find /home/user -name "*.txt" | awk 'BEGIN{print "<ul>"} {print "<li>" $0 "</li>"} END{print "</ul>"}'

This command will generate an HTML list (

    ) of ‘.txt’ files, with each file as a list item (

  • ).


    The ‘find’ command is a powerful tool for searching files in Linux, offering the ability to find files recursively based on various criteria. Combined with other commands, you can even generate HTML-formatted output. With practice, you’ll be able to harness the full power of ‘find’ to simplify file management tasks in Linux.