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Jarkko Hietaniemi > perl-5.7.2 > find


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Source   Latest Release: perl-5.18.4


find - traverse a file tree

finddepth - traverse a directory structure depth-first


    use File::Find;
    find(\&wanted, '/foo', '/bar');
    sub wanted { ... }

    use File::Find;
    finddepth(\&wanted, '/foo', '/bar');
    sub wanted { ... }

    use File::Find;
    find({ wanted => \&process, follow => 1 }, '.');


The first argument to find() is either a hash reference describing the operations to be performed for each file, or a code reference.

Here are the possible keys for the hash:


The value should be a code reference. This code reference is called the wanted() function below.


Reports the name of a directory only AFTER all its entries have been reported. Entry point finddepth() is a shortcut for specifying { bydepth = 1 }> in the first argument of find().


The value should be a code reference. This code reference is used to preprocess the current directory. The name of currently processed directory is in $File::Find::dir. Your preprocessing function is called after readdir() but before the loop that calls the wanted() function. It is called with a list of strings (actually file/directory names) and is expected to return a list of strings. The code can be used to sort the file/directory names alphabetically, numerically, or to filter out directory entries based on their name alone. When follow or follow_fast are in effect, preprocess is a no-op.


The value should be a code reference. It is invoked just before leaving the currently processed directory. It is called in void context with no arguments. The name of the current directory is in $File::Find::dir. This hook is handy for summarizing a directory, such as calculating its disk usage. When follow or follow_fast are in effect, postprocess is a no-op.


Causes symbolic links to be followed. Since directory trees with symbolic links (followed) may contain files more than once and may even have cycles, a hash has to be built up with an entry for each file. This might be expensive both in space and time for a large directory tree. See follow_fast and follow_skip below. If either follow or follow_fast is in effect:

  • It is guaranteed that an lstat has been called before the user's wanted() function is called. This enables fast file checks involving  _.
  • There is a variable $File::Find::fullname which holds the absolute pathname of the file with all symbolic links resolved

This is similar to follow except that it may report some files more than once. It does detect cycles, however. Since only symbolic links have to be hashed, this is much cheaper both in space and time. If processing a file more than once (by the user's wanted() function) is worse than just taking time, the option follow should be used.


follow_skip==1, which is the default, causes all files which are neither directories nor symbolic links to be ignored if they are about to be processed a second time. If a directory or a symbolic link are about to be processed a second time, File::Find dies. follow_skip==0 causes File::Find to die if any file is about to be processed a second time. follow_skip==2 causes File::Find to ignore any duplicate files and directories but to proceed normally otherwise.


If true and a code reference, will be called with the symbolic link name and the directory it lives in as arguments. Otherwise, if true and warnings are on, warning "symbolic_link_name is a dangling symbolic link\n" will be issued. If false, the dangling symbolic link will be silently ignored.


Does not chdir() to each directory as it recurses. The wanted() function will need to be aware of this, of course. In this case, $_ will be the same as $File::Find::name.


If find is used in taint-mode (-T command line switch or if EUID != UID or if EGID != GID) then internally directory names have to be untainted before they can be chdir'ed to. Therefore they are checked against a regular expression untaint_pattern. Note that all names passed to the user's wanted() function are still tainted. If this option is used while not in taint-mode, untaint is a no-op.


See above. This should be set using the qr quoting operator. The default is set to qr|^([-+@\w./]+)$|. Note that the parantheses are vital.


If set, a directory which fails the untaint_pattern is skipped, including all its sub-directories. The default is to 'die' in such a case.

The wanted() function does whatever verifications you want. $File::Find::dir contains the current directory name, and $_ the current filename within that directory. $File::Find::name contains the complete pathname to the file. You are chdir()'d to $File::Find::dir when the function is called, unless no_chdir was specified. When follow or follow_fast are in effect, there is also a $File::Find::fullname. The function may set $File::Find::prune to prune the tree unless bydepth was specified. Unless follow or follow_fast is specified, for compatibility reasons (, find2perl) there are in addition the following globals available: $File::Find::topdir, $File::Find::topdev, $File::Find::topino, $File::Find::topmode and $File::Find::topnlink.

This library is useful for the find2perl tool, which when fed,

    find2perl / -name .nfs\* -mtime +7 \
        -exec rm -f {} \; -o -fstype nfs -prune

produces something like:

    sub wanted {
        /^\.nfs.*\z/s &&
        (($dev, $ino, $mode, $nlink, $uid, $gid) = lstat($_)) &&
        int(-M _) > 7 &&
        ($nlink || (($dev, $ino, $mode, $nlink, $uid, $gid) = lstat($_))) &&
        $dev < 0 &&
        ($File::Find::prune = 1);

Set the variable $File::Find::dont_use_nlink if you're using AFS, since AFS cheats.

Here's another interesting wanted function. It will find all symlinks that don't resolve:

    sub wanted {
         -l && !-e && print "bogus link: $File::Find::name\n";

See also the script pfind on CPAN for a nice application of this module.


Be aware that the option to follow symbolic links can be dangerous. Depending on the structure of the directory tree (including symbolic links to directories) you might traverse a given (physical) directory more than once (only if follow_fast is in effect). Furthermore, deleting or changing files in a symbolically linked directory might cause very unpleasant surprises, since you delete or change files in an unknown directory.



File::Find used to produce incorrect results if called recursively. During the development of perl 5.8 this bug was fixed. The first fixed version of File::Find was 1.01.

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