Find Command Exclude Directories From Search Pattern

by on July 17, 2010 · 15 comments· LAST UPDATED July 17, 2010

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How do I exclude certain directories while using the find command under UNIX or Linux operating systems?

You can use the find command as follows to find all directories except tmp directory:

find /path/to/dest -type d \( ! -name tmp \) -print

Find all directories except tmp and cache:

find /path/to/dest -type d \( ! -name tmp \) -o \( ! -name cache \) -print

The -prune option make sure that you do not descend into directory:

find /path/to/dest -type d \( ! -name tmp \) -o \( ! -name cache -prune \) -print

You can find all *.pl find except in tmp and root directory, enter:

find /  \( ! -name tmp \) -o \( ! -name root -prune \)  -name "*.pl" -print
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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kashyap January 25, 2011 at 9:47 am

find / \( ! -name tmp \) -o \( ! -name root -prune \) -name “*.pl” -print

it’s also displaying the files in tmp directory ?? this isn’t working
using findutils.x86_64 1:4.2.27-6.el5 version

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2 narcis May 4, 2011 at 6:43 am

On my Ubuntu 11 this command will search for all “pl” files in the entire / dir but will not descend in /tmp:

find . -path ./tmp -prune -o -iname “**.pl” -print

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3 sandeep May 10, 2011 at 10:07 am

To exclude multiple directories, the option to use is -a, which is AND operation; not -o as listed in the above article.

Therefore, to find all directories except tmp and cache

find /path/to/dest -type d \( ! -name tmp \) -a \( ! -name cache \) -print

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4 sreedhar May 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm

we have the below directory structure:

/secure/data/bus/PREP_MDATA/preserve
/secure/data/bus/PREP_TDATA/preserve
/secure/data/bus/PREP_QDATA/preserve
/secure/data/bus/PREP_RDATA/preserve

I want to exclude the below 2 directories from my search but show up the other 2
/secure/data/bus/PREP_TDATA/preserve
/secure/data/bus/PREP_QDATA/preserve

How do I do that using the above stated commands.

Thanks for the help

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5 Joe October 31, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I’m just trying to exclude ONE directory, and the code doesn’t work. All directories are printed.

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6 Chris January 5, 2012 at 1:36 am

Joe,
Try this
This will list a non case sensitive list of all files with some phrase but will exlude some other folder with some non case sensitive phrase in it.
Remember if you just want it to list all files you can use * or *.ext for all files with .ext etc.
It seems counter intuitive to use the -o flag but it works here on csh

The dot right after the find command signifies THIS directory or whatever directory you are in. You can always replace that with another directory path.

find . -type f -iname “insert_file_names_you_want_listed_here” -print -o -type d -iname “insert_folder_name_you_dont_want_here” -prune

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7 Simas August 1, 2012 at 8:52 am

Chris, thanks a lot, due to your post I was able to search for files containing “somephrase” in directory and its subdirs excluding some speciffic subdirectories with this command:
find /path/to/dir/ -exec grep -q somephrase {} \; -print -o -type d -wholename “/path/to/dir/speciffic/dir/*” -prune

hopefully somebody will find it usefull

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8 Thomas A Andersion October 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm

find . \( -name results -prune \) -o \( -name typ_testout -prune \) -o \( -name obj-testgen -prune \) -o \( -name obj-sim -prune \) -o -type f -exec grep -w abf {} \; -print

I was trying to find the list of files having the string “abf”. But I wanted to exclude search results in the “results”, “typ_testout”, “obj-testgen”,”obj-sim” directories. So I used the above command and it worked perfectly fine for me. The secret is the “-o” option after each expression. So the find command matches against multiple expressions.

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9 Thomas December 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Thanks for the article, using it and the man page, here is a version using wholename to ‘prune’ absolute paths:

find / \( -wholename '/home/*' -prune \) -o \( -wholename '/other/folder/*' -prune \) -o -name \*.bak -print

Thomas

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10 lxdorney February 12, 2013 at 8:37 am

find all directories except tmp directory:
find /path/to/dest -maxdepth 2 -type d \( ! -name tmp \) -print
how about show only the directory with no subtmp?

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11 Pr1y3nd March 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm

find . -name “*.mp3″ -and -not -path “*Trash*”
will find all mp3 files and exclude any folder containing the letters “Trash”

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12 roan July 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm

+++ thank you, been looking to exclude my .svn folder when using find — this did the trick: find . -type f -and -not -path “*.svn*” -print

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13 Sahil August 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Awesome!

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14 BASTA! June 20, 2014 at 11:16 am

The real general problem is that of excluding certain directories by name, *AND ALSO AVOIDING TRAVERSING THEM* because they may contain *HUGE* subtrees that would take ages to scan, which is *PRECISELY* why we want to exclude them.

Additionally, the directories to be excluded may be located deeper than immediately below the start directory, i.e. if the intention is to exclude directories namet _thumb, then *ALL* of the following should be excluded:

./_thumb
./customer1/_thumb
./customer2/website4/_thumb

The answers above either don’t work at all, fail to avoid traversing the excluded directories, or would only exclude the first line.

Is the solution satisfying *ALL* the above requirements even possible with find?

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15 sugatang itlog July 16, 2014 at 11:13 am

Due to some bugs and versions of find, some works and not.

Though a simle find with grep will do.

Find the files and directories with ganglia on it, except for the directories with name Downloads.
sudo find / -iname “*ganglia*” | egrep -vi “downloads”

Or you can exclude specific directory like, find files or directories with ganglia except in the directory /home/simpleboy/Downloads
sudo find / -iname “*ganglia*” | egrep -v “\/home\/simpleboy\/Downloads”

Thanks More power nixCraft!

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