Linux / UNIX List Just Directories Or Directory Names

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How do I list just directory names on a Linux and UNIX-like operating systems? How can I list directories only in Linux?

Linux or UNIX-like system use the ls command to list files and directories. However, ls does not have an option to list only directories. You can use combination of ls command and grep command to list directory names only. You can use the find command too. In this quick tutorial you will learn how to list only directories in Linux or UNIX.


Display or list all directories in Unix

Type the following command:
$ ls -l | grep `^d'
$ ls -l | egrep `^d'

Or better try the following ls command only to list directories for the current directory:
$ ls -d */
Sample outputs:

Fig.01: List Directories in Unix and Linux Systems
Fig.01: List Directories in Unix and Linux Systems

Linux list only directories using ls command

Run the following ls command:
ls -d */

Linux or Unix List Just Directories using ls command
Listing only directories using ls command in Linux or Unix-like systems

Linux Display or list only files

Type the following command to display list only files in Linux or Unix:
$ ls -l | egrep -v '^d'
$ ls -l | egrep -v '^d'

The grep command is used to searches input. It will filter out directories name by matching first character ‘d‘. To reverse effect i.e. just to display files you need to pass the -v option. It invert the sense of matching, to select non-matching lines.

Task: Create bash shell aliases to save time

You can create two aliases as follows to list only directories and files.
alias lf="ls -l | egrep -v '^d'"
alias ldir='ls -d */'
##alias ldir="ls -l | egrep '^d'"

Put above two aliases in your bash shell startup file:
$ cd
$ vi .bash_profile

Append two lines:
alias lf="ls -l | egrep -v '^d'"
alias ldir='ls -d */'
#alias ldir="ls -l | egrep '^d'"

Save and close the file in vim. Now just type lf – to list files. Again run ldir to list directories only:
$ cd /etc
$ lf

Sample outputs:

-rw-r--r--   1 root root      2149 2006-09-04 23:25 adduser.conf
-rw-r--r--   1 root root        44 2006-09-29 05:11 adjtime
-rw-r--r--   1 root root       197 2006-09-04 23:48 aliases
-rw-------   1 root root       144 2002-01-18 13:43 at.deny
-rw-r--r--   1 root root       162 2006-09-22 23:24 aumixrc
-rw-r--r--   1 root root        28 2006-09-22 23:24 aumixrc1

List directory names only:
$ cd /etc
$ ldir

Sample outputs:

drwxr-xr-x   4 root root      4096 2006-09-22 16:41 alsa
drwxr-xr-x   2 root root      4096 2006-09-20 20:59 alternatives
drwxr-xr-x   6 root root      4096 2006-09-22 16:41 apm
drwxr-xr-x   3 root root      4096 2006-09-07 02:51 apt
drwxr-xr-x   2 root root      4096 2006-09-08 01:46 bash_completion.d

Use find command to list either files or directories on Linux

The find command can be used as follows to list all directories in /nas, enter:

find /nas -type d
find /nas -type d -ls
find . -type d -ls

Sample outputs:

1070785    8 drwxrwxrwt   8 root     root         4096 Jul  5 07:12 .
1070797    8 drwx------   2 root     root         4096 Jul  4 07:22 ./orbit-root
1070843    8 drwxr-xr-x   2 root     root         4096 Jun 16 18:55 ./w
1070789    8 drwxr-xr-x  10 root     root         4096 Jun 17 14:54 ./b
1071340    8 drwxr-xr-x   2 root     root         4096 Jun 16 18:55 ./b/init.d
1071581    8 drwxr-xr-x   3 root     root         4096 Jun 16 18:55 ./b/bind
1071584    8 drwxr-xr-x   2 root     root         4096 Jun 16 18:55 ./b/bind/bak
1071617    8 drwxr-xr-x   2 root     root         4096 Jun 16 18:55 ./b/fw
1071628    8 drwxr-xr-x   8 root     root         4096 Jun 16 18:55 ./b/scripts

Pass the -maxdepth 0 to limit listing to the starting-points i.e. the current working directory only:
find /path/to/dir -maxdepth 1 -type d
find . -maxdepth 1 -type d
find . -maxdepth 1 -type d -ls

Listing only directories using the find command in Linux
Listing only directories using the find command in Linux

Putting it all together

Say you want to find all directories ending with .bak extension and delete it, run the following find command in the current directory:
find . -type d -iname ".bak" -delete
Verify it:
find . -type d -iname ".bak" -ls
The following shell script does two things for Apache/Nginx/Lighttpd Webroot such as /webroot/:

  1. First, finds all files and directories and set permission to read-only for security reasons.
  2. Second, it allows our web server to read files regardless of permission so that we don’t get an HTTP/403 error.

In other words, all write permissions are removed from Webroot. The server/web-app can only read files but can not alter any files or upload any files. It helps reduces attack surfaces provided that you configure the rest of the server and web application firewall correctly.

#!/usr/bin/env bash
# Purpose: Remove all write permissions from Apache/Nginx WebRoot. Make it read-only
# Author: Vivek Gite {} under GPL v2.0+
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
_dp="0445" #dir read-only and allow nginx/php/perl-cgi to read it
_fp="0444" #file read-only
# die if $_dir not found
[ $# -eq 0 ] && { echo "Usage: $0 dirname"; exit 1; }
# Get base and dir names from arg
_dn="$(dirname $_dir)"
_bn="$(basename $_dir)"
# Avoid working on / 
[ "$_dn" == "$_bn" ] && { echo "$0: Sorry, can't work on root path."; exit 1; }
# Let us get started 
if [ -d "$_dir" -o -e "$_dir" ]
	echo "Chowning $_dir to $_user:$_group ..."
	$_chown -R $_user:$_group "$_dir"
	echo "Setting $_dir perm to $_fp ..."
	$_chmod -R $_fp "$_dir"
	if [ -d "$_dir" ] 
		echo "Allowing php/perl/our webserver to read files in all subdirs..."
		$_find "$_dir" -type d -print0 | $_xargs -0 -I {} $_chmod $_dp "{}"
	echo "Error: $_dir not found."

We can runt it as follows:
/path/to/ /webroot/
/path/to/ /home/httpd


We explained how to list the directories only using various command-line options in Linux and Unix-like operating systems.


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

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Historical Comment Archive

56 comment

  1. To get just file names without the long list data:

    ls -l | grep ‘^d’ | awk ‘{ print $9 }’


    for foo in *; do if [ -d $foo ]; then print -n ” $foo”; else false; fi; done

  2. To get just the subdirectories names

    find . -type d -maxdepth 1 -exec basename {} \;

    However, in this case you also get the directory itself! To avoid this, add mindepth 1:

    find . -type d -maxdepth 1 -mindepth 1 -exec basename {} \;

  3. can some1 please help me i need to know what the significant effects are of the following characters in unix filenames. 2 dots / 1 dot / tilde or “squiggle”

  4. Can you just list the directories name, without the permission, datetime, and etc … ?

  5. Thanx, nice post. I was just thinking of doing it with awk but couldnt get the wildcard working. Now I am one step ahead in my shell knowledge ^^
    To Dennis Quek above :
    A rather dirty solution but does the job.

    ls -l | egrep ‘^d’ | awk ‘$1=” “‘ | awk ‘$1=” “‘ | awk ‘$1=” “‘ | awk ‘$1=” “‘ | awk ‘$1=” “‘ | awk ‘$1=” “‘| awk ‘$1=” “‘| awk ‘$1=” “‘

    (forgive me if seeing this code gives someone a heart attack, all i can say is that I’m still learning :P )
    I would love if someone can give my code a neater look :)

    1. A cleaner Recipe for the same using AWK :

      ls -l | egrep ‘^d’ | awk ‘{ print $9}’

      another alternate is bit clumsy :

      ls -l | egrep ‘^d’ | awk ‘$1=” “,$2=” “‘ | awk ‘$1=” “,$2=” “‘ | awk ‘$1=” “,$2=” “‘ | awk ‘$1=” “,$2=” “‘

      Another Simpler and Faster way out to get the Desired result :

      ls -l|grep ‘^d’

  6. > i used to the $ du command to retrieve all directory names.
    du is used to calculate Disk Usage. I want to know did you tweak this command to display directory listing in pwd. Please explain.

  7. $ /bin/ls -l | grep “^d” | cut -d’ ‘ -f8
    it’s a neat trick on linux systems.

    i’m using /bin/ls and not ls because it may be aliased

  8. one can list directory i simple and easy way by :
    1. ls -ltr | grep -e d
    2. ls -ld */
    3. du

    third one is the most easiest way. :-)

  9. i renamed a directory name with a space in between the directory name within GUI(Graphical User Interface)
    which is allowed and now in the shell prompt i.e. in the terminal command mode i want to enter the directory which has a space in between but it does not allows to enter into that directory it says “INVALID DIRECTORY”
    is their any alternative solution or trick to enter into the directory with the name having space.please explain
    the directory name is “file data”
    i tried with — $cd file data but it didnt work out.

  10. nice stuff!

    i learned a lot from the original post, but the comments are a treasure trove!

    one thing about the original post, you have a back tick instead of a single quote in the 1st two snippets
    ls -l | egrep `^d’ for example should be ls -l | egrep ‘^d’ for the copy / pasters

    thanks again ;)

  11. if you wanted to pull a date from the directory to only list files from datea/timea through dateb/timeb (say March 2 at 6:00 AM to March 8 at 6:00 AM) and move into a new file the output, how is this accomplished? I tried this but no output
    FILES=’ls -A1′
    STARTDATE=’date –utc –date “2010-02-27 06:00:00” %s’
    ENDDATE=’date –utc –date “2010-03-02 06:00:00” %s’
    cd C: temp/tsfr-complete
    for f in $FILES
    if [ -f $f ]; then
    FDATE=’stat -c “%Z” $f’
    if [ $FDATE -ge $STARTDATE ]; then
    if [ $FDATE -le $ENDDATE ]; then
    ‘echo $f >> $OUTFILE’

  12. How do you get the directory listing to display only: the file name, the user that owns the file and that user’s permissions?

  13. //Mohammed asif December 9, 2009
    is their any alternative solution or trick to enter into the directory with the name having space.please explain//
    did you try
    cd “file data”
    cd ‘file data’
    ( i.e. directory name with double quotes or single quote)
    you yourself have given the hint :-)

  14. Hello.
    I would like to do some batching in my linux but I couldn’t find any way of initializing an array containing folder’s location information. In short, I have data in two folders located at:

    and I want to make an array following by a loop to do some specific command inside each folder seprately like this:

    fn_list= (‘/home/alireza/Desktop/DTIBetula101019/B2509.30′,’/home/alireza/Desktop/DTIBetula101019/B2509.50’)

    for fn in ${fn_list}
    cd $fn
    fsl4.1-fslmerge -t big4D 2501.45-DTI1-s007 2501.45-DTI2-s008 2501.45-DTI3-s009

    can anybody help me to figure out how to specify an array that can pointed to a folder which can be reused during a for loop?


  15. Commenting on Eric’s ls | grep | awk combination:
    Cygwin (1.7.9) displays 8, not 9, fields in

      ls -l


    So change his “awk ‘{print 9}'” to awk ‘{print 8}’ and you’ll get more than a bunch of deadspace in mintty.

    Just in case it wasn’t already obvious. *S*


  16. ls -d */ or ls -ld */ (Use these commands to display only directories in current user)
    cd /etc
    ls -ld */ ( Use these two commands to display only directories for all users including root)

  17. I know many good options are available but one more variation using tr & cut:

    ls -l /var|egrep ‘^d’|tr -s ‘ ‘|cut -d’ ‘ -f9

  18. About
    ls -d */

    This works if there are some directories. But if there are no directories I get
    ls: cannot access */: No such file or directory

  19. As stated above:
    ls -ld */
    Or, create an alias for above such as:
    alias lsd=”ls -ld */”
    Then, simply lsd will generate a long directory only list.

  20. Here’s one I use at work when we’re cleaning up data dirs past our retention period.
    We have a production mount with named paths containing a dated subdir.
    The asterisks are there to cover all our various common ‘feeds’. I need this in a report that a Window user will pickup via sftp, so I name the results .txt for their convenience.
    -d for directories
    -g displays directories first (shouldn’t be needed, but sometimes ‘file’ names wind up in my results and this seems to at least keep them together).
    -R …Recursive.

    ls -dgR /path/to/data/*/*/*2015* >> /path/to/employee/dir/DirList-2015.txt

    1. Try:

      ls -l | grep -v '^d'


      find . -maxdepth 1 -type f -ls | more


      find . -type f -ls | more
  21. Great information here! I’ve always wondered if there was a quick way to display just directories in UNIX. I sift through files with a lot of junk in them (in addition to other folders), and this command is money! Thanks for the info!

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