HowTo: Linux / UNIX List Just Directories Or Directory Names

Posted on in Categories , , last updated January 10, 2015

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

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 and grep 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

Display or list only files in Unix

Type the following command:
$ 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 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 -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 -l | egrep '^d'"

Save and close the file.

Now just type lf – to list files and ldir – to list directories only:
$ cd /etc
$ lf

Sample outpust:

-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

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

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

56 comment

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

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

    Or

    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. 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’

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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 ;)

  8. 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
    #!/bin/bash
    FILES=’ls -A1′
    OUTFILE=”c:/temp/RRDfilesinrange.txt”
    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
    do
    if [ -f $f ]; then
    FDATE=’stat -c “%Z” $f’
    if [ $FDATE -ge $STARTDATE ]; then
    if [ $FDATE -le $ENDDATE ]; then
    ‘echo $f >> $OUTFILE’
    fi
    fi
    fi
    done

  9. //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”
    or
    cd ‘file data’
    ( i.e. directory name with double quotes or single quote)
    you yourself have given the hint :-)

  10. 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:
    /home/alireza/Desktop/DTIBetula101019/B2509.30
    /home/alireza/Desktop/DTIBetula101019/B2509.50

    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}
    do
    cd $fn
    fsl4.1-fslmerge -t big4D 2501.45-DTI1-s007 2501.45-DTI2-s008 2501.45-DTI3-s009
    done

    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?

    Thanks
    /Alireza

  11. 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*

    BZT

  12. 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)

  13. 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

  14. 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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