How to Search for Files Recursively into Subdirectories

I am trying to look for all XML files in a particular directory and all sub-directories (recursively) inside it.

ls -R *.xml is only listing files in the current directory. I am quite sure, the sub-folders themselves have several .xml files, but none are showing up.

Is this a configuration issue?

Here is Solutions:

We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first solution because it is tested & true solution that will 100% work for you.

Solution 1

You can do it with find only:

find . -name '*.xml'

. is the current directory. If you need to search in another directory, replace . with the directory path.

Solution 2

Try using Find

sudo find . -print | grep -i '.*[.]xml'

Solution 3

Try this command:

ls -R | grep '.*[.]xml'

ls doesn’t have options to filter the output. For that you would need to use pipe. This passes the output from ls to grep, which then filters them to show just the .xml files.

Solution 4


Using globstar shell option, we can make use of recursive globbing ./**/*

bash-4.3$ shopt -s globstar
bash-4.3$ for i in  ./**/*.xml; do printf "%s\n" "$i" ; done


Perl has a module Find, which allows for recursive directory tree traversal. Within the special find() function, we can define a wanted subroutine and the directory that we want to traverse, in this example that’s .. The one-liner in such case would be:

bash-4.3$ perl -le 'use File::Find; find(sub{-f && $_ =~ /.xml$/ && print $File::Find::name},".")' 


While Perl has a whole module dedicated to recursive tree traversal, Python has a neat function walk() that is part of os module, and repeatedly returns tuple of topmost path, list of all subdirectories, and list of filenames. We can do the following:

bash-4.3$ python -c 'import os,sys; [ sys.stdout.write(os.path.join(r,i)+"\n") for r,s,f in os.walk(".") for i in f if i.endswith(".xml") ]' 

This might be far neater as a script:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import os,sys 
for r,s,f in os.walk("."): 
    for i in f: 
        if i.endswith(".xml") 


Other answers have mentioned find for recursive traversal, and that’s the go-to tool for the job. What does need mention is the fact that find has multiple command line switches, such as -printf to print output in desired format, -type f to find only regular files, -inum to search by inode number, -mtime to search by modification date, -exec <command> {} \; to execute a particular command to process the file with passing file as argument ( where {} is standard find placeholder for current file) , and many others so please read the manpage for find.

Solution 5

Inside the Gnome Filemanager you can click on the magnifying-glass icon (in the top-right usually) and then start typing to search in the current folder.

For some people (me) this is much easier that using the command-line.

Note: Use and implement solution 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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