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Increase your work efficiency with the find command in Linux. This comprehensive guide details search options, syntax usage, and real-world examples, empowering you to locate files and directories effectively.


In the world of Linux, effective file management is essential. Whether you’re searching for specific files or performing complex operations on them, the Linux Find command is an invaluable tool. This guide delves into the intricacies of the Find command, covering its syntax, various options, and providing numerous examples to empower you in harnessing this powerful file-searching utility.

Locate vs Find Command

Both locate and find are commands in Linux used for finding files and directories, but they have key differences in their approach and usefulness:


  • Faster: Relies on a pre-built database of filenames, making searches much quicker than find.
  • Less Accurate: The database may not reflect recently added or modified files since the last update.
  • Limited Functionality: Primarily searches by filename and offers fewer filtering options compared to find.


  • Slower: Scans the entire filesystem in real-time, leading to potentially longer search times.
  • Always Up-to-Date: Provides results based on the current state of your filesystem, including new or modified files.
  • Powerful and Flexible: Offers a vast array of options to search by filename, file type, size, modification date, permissions, and more. You can even perform actions on the files you find using options like delete or move.

Here’s a table summarizing the key points:

Search MethodPre-built databaseScans filesystem
AccuracyMay not be up-to-dateAlways up-to-date
FunctionalityLimitedPowerful and flexible

Choosing the right tool:

  • Use locate for quick searches by filename when you know the file likely exists and hasn’t been modified recently.
  • Use find for more precise searches with various filter options, especially when dealing with potentially new or modified files, or when you need to perform actions on the search results.

Understanding Linux Find Command Syntax

The Find command in Linux is structured as follows:

$ find [path...] [expression]

Here, path specifies the starting directory for the search, and expression denotes the criteria for matching files.

Basic Usage of Find Command in Linux

Finding Files by Name

To locate files by name, use:

$ find /path/to/search -name "filename"

Finding Directories

For finding directories, employ:

$ find /path/to/search -type d

Finding Files by Extension

For specific file extensions, use:

$ find /path/to/search -name "*.extension"

Finding Files by Size

Searching by file size can be done with:

$ find /path/to/search -size +10M

Advanced Find Features

Combining Conditions

You can combine multiple conditions. For example, to find all PDF files larger than 5MB:

$ find /path/to/search -name "*.pdf" -size +5M

Searching for Empty Files or Directories

Use the -empty option to find empty files or directories:

$ find /path/to/search -type f -empty

Executing Commands on Found Files

The -exec option allows you to perform operations on found files. For instance, to delete all log files:

$ find /path/to/search -name "*.log" -exec rm {} ;

Excluding Directories or Files

You can exclude specific directories or files from the search using the -prune option:

$ find /path/to/search -type d -name "exclude_dir" -prune -o -print

Find Command in Practice

Let’s explore some real-world examples of using the Find command:

Finding Large Files for Cleanup

Locate files larger than 100MB for cleanup:

$ find /home/user -type f -size +100M

Identifying and Archiving Old Files

Find files older than 30 days and archive them:

$ find /path/to/search -type f -mtime +30 -exec tar -cvzf archive.tar.gz {} +

Finding and Counting Files

Count the number of PHP files in a directory:

$ find /path/to/search -type f -name "*.php" | wc -l

Final Thoughts

Mastering the Linux Find command is fundamental for efficient file management and searching. With its versatile syntax and powerful features, Find offers a wide array of options for locating and handling files based on various criteria. Armed with the knowledge from this guide, you can now confidently navigate and manipulate your file system with precision and ease.

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