How to count files in directory in Linux? [SOLVED]


Linux, Tips and Tricks

Author: Omer Cakmak
Reviewer: Deepak Prasad

When managing files and directories in Linux operating systems, there may be a need to know how many files are in a given directory. For example:

  • You may need to check the number of files to check that a backup was successful
  • You may need to check the number of files to make sure your app is deleting temporary files correctly
  • In a bash script you have prepared, you may need to determine how long the loop will continue based on the number of files in the directory.

For these and similar reasons, this article will help you if you need to determine the number of files in a directory.

 

Method 1: Use ls command

You can list files under a directory with the ls command. Some terminal applications count the number of files listed. The wc command can be used to count the files in the ls command output:

foc@fedora:~$ ls /var/log/ | wc
     79  ​_    79     986

Result: 79 words, 79 lines, 986 characters. The number of lines gives the number of files:

foc@fedora:~$ ls /var/log/ | wc -l
79

You can print the number of lines with the -l parameter of the wc command.

In this method, the files listed with ls are counted with the -c, (--count) parameter of the egrep command:

foc@fedora:~$ ls -l . | egrep -c '^-'
64

In this method, the ls command and the grep command are used. Files listed with ls are counted with the -c (--count) parameter of the grep command:

$ ls -1 /etc/ | grep -c ""
302

Those listed with the ls and tr commands are counted with the -w (print the word counts) parameter of the wc command:

$ ls -1 /home/faruk | tr '\n' ' ' | wc -w
118

The ls command lists one file per line(-1), followed by the awk command counts the files:

$ ls -1 | awk 'END { print NR }'
108

We can also use ls command to recursively count number of files combined with awk. Here with awk, we first check if the line starts with ./. If it does, it means that it's a directory, so we store its name in the dir variable and skip to the next line.

If the line doesn't start with ./, it means that it's a file. We increment the file counter for each file encountered.

Finally, the END block in awk is executed after all records have been processed, so we print the value of the file counter. This will give you the total number of files in the directory and its subdirectories recursively.

$ ls -R /var/log | awk '/^\.\//{dir=$0; next} /^\.+/{next} {file++} END{print file}'
188

 

Method 2: Use the tree command

If no directory is given after the tree command, it counts the lines in the active directory. Given a directory after it, it counts the files under that directory:

foc@fedora:~$ tree /etc/pam.d/
/etc/pam.d/
├── atd
├── config-util
├── cups
├── fingerprint-auth -> /etc/authselect/fingerprint-auth
├── gdm-autologin
...
├── liveinst
├── login
├── other
├── passwd
├── password-auth -> /etc/authselect/password-auth
├── polkit-1
├── postlogin -> /etc/authselect/postlogin
...
├── sshd
├── sssd-shadowutils
├── su
├── sudo
├── sudo-i
├── su-l
├── system-auth -> /etc/authselect/system-auth
├── vlock
├── vmtoolsd
└── xserver

0 directories, 33 files

You can also use these 3 parameters in the tree command:

  • -d : List directories only.
  • -l : Follow symbolic links like directories.

Count directories with the -d parameter:

foc@fedora:~$ tree -d /boot/
/boot/
├── efi [error opening dir]
├── extlinux
├── grub2 [error opening dir]
├── loader
│   └── entries [error opening dir]
└── lost+found [error opening dir]

6 directories

With the -l parameter, symbolic links are also shown:

foc@fedora:~$ tree -l /etc/sysconfig/
/etc/sysconfig/
├── anaconda
├── atd
├── chronyd
├── console
├── firewalld
├── grub -> ../default/grub
├── htcacheclean
├── kdump
├── kernel
...
├── samba
├── saslauthd
├── selinux -> ../selinux/config
├── sheepdog
├── sshd
├── unbound
├── virtinterfaced
├── virtlockd
...
├── virtstoraged
├── virtvboxd
├── virtxend
├── wpa_supplicant
└── zfs-fuse

3 directories, 39 files

The number of files and directories is shown at the end of the output.

 

Method 3: Use find Command

To count the number of files in a directory recursively in Linux, you can use the find command along with the wc command.

Here's the syntax to count files in a directory recursively:

find /path/to/directory -type f | wc -l

Explanation:

  • find /path/to/directory: This command searches for files in the specified directory recursively.
  • -type f: This option specifies that only files should be included in the search, not directories or other types of files.
  • |: This is a pipe symbol that connects the output of the find command to the input of the wc command.
  • wc -l: This command counts the number of lines in the output, which corresponds to the number of files found by the find command.

Example

$ find /var/log -type f | wc -l
182

This will output the total number of files found in the directory and its subdirectories.

Alternatively use the ls command with the find command. Here's the syntax:

find /path/to/directory -type f -exec ls -l {} + | wc -l

Explanation:

  • find /path/to/directory: This command searches for files in the specified directory recursively.
  • -type f: This option specifies that only files should be included in the search, not directories or other types of files.
  • -exec ls -l {} +: This option executes the ls command on each file found by find and displays the file details, including the file size and name.
  • |: This is a pipe symbol that connects the output of the find and ls commands to the input of the wc command.
  • wc -l: This command counts the number of lines in the output, which corresponds to the number of files found by the find command.

 

To count the number of files in a directory including symbolic links recursively, you can use the find command along with awk. Here's an example command:

find /path/to/directory -type f -o -type l | awk 'END {print NR}'

This command will find all regular files (-type f) and symbolic links (-type l) in the /path/to/directory directory and its subdirectories recursively, and then pass the list of files to awk. NR in awk is a built-in variable that counts the number of records (lines) processed so far. The END block in awk is executed after all records have been processed, so it will print the total number of regular files and symbolic links found.

 

To count the number of regular files in a directory recursively while excluding symbolic links, you can use the find command along with awk. Here's an example command:

find /path/to/directory -type f ! -type l | awk 'END {print NR}'

This command will find all regular files (-type f) in the /path/to/directory directory and its subdirectories recursively, while excluding symbolic links (! -type l), and then pass the list of files to awk. NR in awk is a built-in variable that counts the number of records (lines) processed so far. The END block in awk is executed after all records have been processed, so it will print the total number of regular files found.

 

Method 4: Use du Command

You can use du to count the number of files recursively:

du -a /path/to/directory | grep -v "/$" | wc -l

This command uses du with the -a option to print the size of each file in the specified directory and all its subdirectories. The output is then piped to grep -v "/$", which filters out any lines that end with a forward slash (i.e., directories). Finally, wc -l counts the number of remaining lines, which represents the number of files.

Note that this command counts all files, including hidden files and directories. If you want to exclude hidden files and directories, you can use the -A option with du instead of -a. This will exclude entries that start with a dot (.), which is the convention for hidden files and directories.

 

Method 5: Use stat Command

Give a format with -c instead of the stat command standard output. This format should be %h (number of hard links). In this way, you can count the files under the specified directory:

foc@fedora:~$ stat -c "%h" /tmp/
23

We can also use the stat command to count the number of files in a directory:

stat -c '%F' /var/log/** | awk '/^regular file$/ {count++} END {print count}'
42

This command uses the stat command with the -c option to display the file type (%F) of all files in the /path/to/directory and its subdirectories (**).

The output of stat is then piped to awk, which uses a pattern matching rule to check if the file type is a "regular file". If it is, then the count variable is incremented.

Finally, the END block in awk is executed after all records have been processed, so the total number of regular files found is printed.

 

Method 6: Counting files using GUI

Finally, if you are using a graphical interface (XFCE, KDE, Gnome etc), the applications used to open directories (Dolphin, Files etc) will count the files under the selected directory:count files in directory in Linux

 

Summary

To count the number of files in a directory in Linux, you can use various commands such as ls, find, and stat. However, the most commonly used command is find.

To count the total number of files in a directory recursively using find, you can use the command find /path/to/directory -type f | wc -l. This command will find all regular files in the specified directory and its subdirectories recursively and count the number of files using the wc -l command.

If you want to exclude symbolic links from the count, you can use the command find /path/to/directory -type f ! -type l | wc -l. This command will find all regular files in the specified directory and its subdirectories recursively, while excluding symbolic links, and count the number of files using the wc -l command.

Alternatively, you can also use the ls command with awk to count the number of files in a directory recursively. The command ls -R /path/to/directory | awk '/^\.\//{dir=$0; next} /^\.+/{next} {file++} END{print file}' will list all files and directories in the specified directory and its subdirectories recursively using the -R option of ls. The output of ls will then be passed to awk to count the number of regular files.

 

References

stackoverflow.com - Recursively counting files in a Linux directory
stackoverflow.com - Count number of files within a directory in Linux?

 

Views: 78
Omer Cakmak

Omer Cakmak

He is highly skilled at managing Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Oracle Linux, and Red Hat servers. Proficient in bash scripting, Ansible, and AWX central server management, he handles server operations on OpenStack, KVM, Proxmox, and VMware. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn profile.

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