# Listing Files

# List Files in a Long Listing Format

The ls command's -l option prints a specified directory's contents in a long listing format. If no directory is specified then, by default, the contents of the current directory are listed.

ls -l /etc

Example Output:

total 1204
drwxr-xr-x  3 root root    4096 Apr 21 03:44 acpi
-rw-r--r--  1 root root    3028 Apr 21 03:38 adduser.conf
drwxr-xr-x  2 root root    4096 Jun 11 20:42 alternatives
...

The output first displays total, which indicates the total size in blocks of all the files in the listed directory. It then displays eight columns of information for each file in the listed directory. Below are the details for each column in the output:

Column No. Example Description
1.1 d File type (see table below)
1.2 rwxr-xr-x Permission string
2 3 Number of hard links
3 root Owner name
4 root Owner group
5 4096 File size in bytes
6 Apr 21 03:44 Modification time
7 acpi File name

# File Type

The file type can be one of any of the following characters.

Character File Type
- Regular file
b Block special file
c Character special file
C High performance ("contiguous data") file
d Directory
D Door (special IPC file in Solaris 2.5+ only)
l Symbolic link
M Off-line ("migrated") file (Cray DMF)
n Network special file (HP-UX)
p FIFO (named pipe)
P Port (special system file in Solaris 10+ only)
s Socket
? Some other file type

# List the Ten Most Recently Modified Files

The following will list up to ten of the most recently modified files in the current directory, using a long listing format (-l) and sorted by time (-t).

ls -lt | head

# List All Files Including Dotfiles

A dotfile is a file whose names begin with a .. These are normally hidden by ls and not listed unless requested.

For example the following output of ls:

$ ls
bin  pki

The -a or --all option will list all files, including dotfiles.

$ ls -a
.   .ansible       .bash_logout   .bashrc  .lesshst  .puppetlabs  .viminfo
..  .bash_history  .bash_profile  bin      pki       .ssh

The -A or --almost-all option will list all files, including dotfiles, but does not list implied . and ... Note that . is the current directory and .. is the parent directory.

$ ls -A
.ansible       .bash_logout   .bashrc  .lesshst  .puppetlabs  .viminfo
.bash_history  .bash_profile  bin      pki       .ssh

# List Files

The ls command lists the contents of a specified directory, excluding dotfiles. If no directory is specified then, by default, the contents of the current directory are listed.

Listed files are sorted alphabetically, by default, and aligned in columns if they don’t fit on one line.

$ ls
apt  configs  Documents  Fonts    Music      Programming  Templates  workspace
bin  Desktop  eclipse    git      Pictures   Public       Videos

# List Files Without Using ls

Use the Bash shell's filename expansion and brace expansion capabilities to obtain the filenames:

# display the files and directories that are in the current directory
printf "%s\n" *

# display only the directories in the current directory
printf "%s\n" */

# display only (some) image files
printf "%s\n" *.{gif,jpg,png}

To capture a list of files into a variable for processing, it is typically good practice to use a bash array:

files=( * )

# iterate over them
for file in "${files[@]}"; do
    echo "$file"
done

# List Files in a Tree-Like Format

The tree command lists the contents of a specified directory in a tree-like format. If no directory is specified then, by default, the contents of the current directory are listed.

Example Output:

$ tree /tmp
/tmp
├── 5037
├── adb.log
└── evince-20965
    └── image.FPWTJY.png

Use the tree command's -L option to limit the display depth and the -d option to only list directories.

Example Output:

$ tree -L 1 -d /tmp
/tmp
└── evince-20965

# List Files Sorted by Size

The ls command's -S option sorts the files in descending order of file size.

$ ls -l -S ./Fruits
total 444
-rw-rw-rw- 1 root root 295303 Jul 28 19:19 apples.jpg
-rw-rw-rw- 1 root root 102283 Jul 28 19:19 kiwis.jpg
-rw-rw-rw- 1 root root  50197 Jul 28 19:19 bananas.jpg

When used with the -r option the sort order is reversed.

$ ls -l -S -r /Fruits
total 444
-rw-rw-rw- 1 root root  50197 Jul 28 19:19 bananas.jpg
-rw-rw-rw- 1 root root 102283 Jul 28 19:19 kiwis.jpg
-rw-rw-rw- 1 root root 295303 Jul 28 19:19 apples.jpg

# Syntax

  • ls [OPTION]... [FILE]...

# Parameters

Option Description
-a, --all List all entries including ones that start with a dot
-A, --almost-all List all entries excluding . and ..
-c Sort files by change time
-d, --directory List directory entries
-h, --human-readable Show sizes in human readable format (i.e. K, M)
-H Same as above only with powers of 1000 instead of 1024
-l Show contents in long-listing format
-o Long -listing format without group info
-r, --reverse Show contents in reverse order
-s, --size Print size of each file in blocks
-S Sort by file size
--sort=WORD Sort contents by a word. (i.e size, version, status)
-t Sort by modification time
-u Sort by last access time
-v Sort by version
-1 List one file per line