In this tutorial we will be learning various ways to count files in a directory. One of the most annoying features of using a computer system is managing space on the system. With the presence of numerous directories, navigation through each of them is time-consuming. This menial task of counting files in a specific directory can be fulfilled by certain commands.
1. Count the Number of Items in a Directory
In order to display the count of items immediately present inside, we will use a combination of two commands:
ls <PATH> | wc -l
Note: If the user has to count items in the current directory, then the
'<PATH>'can be omitted in the above command.
2. Count Files in a Directory
It is quite clear that a directory might contain files, folders, or links. There can be special ways to only count files in a directory. It is done by:
ls -l <PATH> | grep "^-" | wc -l
Let us try to understand the process of this command. The
'ls -l ~' displays the elongated format of file contents.
There is a vivid pattern for files that we can notice from this output. All the regular files start with
'-', whereas directories start with
'd'. This pattern can be matched using Linux commands.
The grep command filters out the lines that start (denoted by
'^' symbol) with
'-'. The filtered text is passed to the
wc command which prints the number of lines given as input.
3. Number of files in the entire directory
The above commands only count items in the immediate directory. Sometimes, we need to count the files in directories within a directory. This type of count can be achieved by a few Linux commands.
Using the find command
The find command does exactly what it means. It is used to find and filter files or directories in Linux systems. In order to get a total count of files inside a directory (including files inside sub-directories).
find <PATH> -type f | wc -l
The use of
'-type f' option tells the command to list the files in that directory. The list of files is passed as a text to the
wc command, which counts the number of lines in it.
Note: There can be certain sub-directories where a non-root user might not have access. Therefore in that case,
sudomust be placed before the
Using the tree command
tree command is used to display the directory tree along with the final count of files in it. It is not a preinstalled command in Linux, therefore needs to be installed before using it.
Ubuntu/Debian users can install it by:
sudo apt install tree
Users of other Linux distributions can install it using their standard installation command followed by
After the installation is complete, we need to simply run:
As we can see from the image, the command first displays the tree-like directory structure and then displays the final statistics. There are 31 directories and 416 files inside the given directory.
Using the rsync command
The rsync command is mainly a file backup tool. It can be used to display files as well as certain statistical information with respect to a directory.
Since we need a count of files and not a files backup, we must use
'--dry-run' option with the command.
rsync --stats --dry-run -a <PATH>
'--stats' option is used to display the end statistics, whereas the
'-a' option informs the command to considers the files inside sub-directories as well. The first line of the statistics display total items in the entire directory followed by number of regular files and number of sub-directories.
This sums up the ways of counting files in a directory using Linux commands.
In this article, we understood various ways of counting files in a directory in Linux. We hope each method provided was easy to follow by the reader. In case, we missed any technique, feel free to comment below.