Linux / Unix: Find All Hidden Dot Directories and Delete

in Categories , , last updated May 5, 2013

I need to clean up my backups stored on the nas server. I need to free up the disk space. How do I find out all hidden dot directories such as /nas01/backups/home/user/.gnome/, /nas01/backups/home/user/.gnome/ and so on and delete then in a single pass using Linux or Unix command line option? Please note that I do not want to delete nested hidden directories such as /nas01/backups/home/user/data/.xml, /nas01/backups/home/user/foo/bar/.level/.levle2/ and so on.

You can use the find command to find or locate files on a Linux or Unix system. The search is recursive in that it will search all subdirectories too. The syntax is:

find /path/to/search criteria action

Here’s an example find command using a search criterion and the default print action:

find /nas01/backups/home/user/ -name file-Name-here

To match only directories, use:

find /nas01/backups/home/user/ -type d -name file-Name-here -print0

To match only hidden dot directories, enter:
find /nas01/backups/home/user/ -type d -name ".*" -print0

To descend at most one levels of directories below the command line arguments pass the -maxdepth 1 option. This will avoid deleting nested directories:

find /nas01/backups/home/user/ -maxdepth 1 -type d -name ".*" -print0

Once satisfied with the result, use the xargs command to delete all hidden directories:

find .  -maxdepth 1 -type d -iname ".[^.]*" -print0 | xargs -I {} -0 rm -rvf "{}"


find .  -maxdepth 1 -type d -iname ".*" -print0 | xargs -I {} -0 rm -rvf "{}"

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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4 comment

  1. Won’t this, without maxdepth also delete directories higher than the specified (.* matches “..”)?

  2. Why not use -exec:

    find . -maxdepth 1 -type d -iname “.[^.]*” -exec rm -rvf “{}” \;

  3. why not use -delete:

    find -maxdepth 1 -type d -name “.[^.]*” -deletewe have got crammed

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