The Find Command

Find command syntax:

find {search-path} {file-names-to-search} {action-to-take}


  • search-path : Define search path (default current directory). For example search in /home directory.
  • file-names-to-search : Name of the file you wish to find. For example all c files (*.c)
  • action-to-take : Action can be print file name, delete files etc. Default action is print file names.

Find command examples

You wish to find out all *.c (all c source code) files located under /home directory, enter:

# find /home -name "*.c"

You would like to find httpd.conf file location:

# find / -name httpd.conf

Finding all files owned by a user

Find out all files owned by user vivek:

# find / -user vivek

Find out all *.sh owned by user vivek:

# find / -user vivek -name "*.sh"

Finding files according to date and time

Find files not accessed in a time period

It is useful to find out files that have or have not been accessed within a specified number of days. Following command prints all files not accessed in the last 7 days:

# find /home -atime +7
  • -atime +7: All files that were last accessed more than 7 days ago
  • -atime 7: All files that were last accessed exactly 7 days ago
  • -atime -7: All files that were last accessed less than7 days ago

Finding files modified within a specified time – Display list of all files in /home directory that were not last modified less than then days ago.

# find /home -mtime -7

Finding newer (more recently) modified files

Use -newer option to find out if file was modified more recently than given file.

# find /etc/apache-perl -newer /etc/apache-perl/httpd.conf

Finding the most recent version of file

It is common practice before modifying the file is copied to somewhere in system. For example whenever I modify web server httpd.conf file I first make backup. Now I don’t remember whether I had modified the /backup.conf/httpd.conf or /etc/apache-perl/httpd.conf. You can use the find command as follows (tip you can also use ls -l command):

# find / -name httpd.conf -newer /etc/apache-perl/httpd.conf

Finding all set user id files

setuid (”suid”) and setgid are access right flags that can be assigned to files and directories on a Unix based operating system. They are mostly used to allow users on a computer system to execute binary executables with temporarily elevated privileges in order to perform a specific task.

# find / -perm +u=s


# find / -perm +4000

Finding all set group id files

# find / -perm +g=s


# find / -perm +2000

Finding all large directories

To find all directories taking 50k (kilobytes) blocks of space. This is useful to find out which directories on system taking lot of space.

# find / -type d -size +50k

Finding all large files

# find / -type f -size +20000k

However my favorite hack to above command is as follows:

# find / -type f -size +20000k -exec ls -lh {} \; | awk '{ print $8 ": " $5 }'
/var/log/kern.log: 22M
/sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:02.0/resource0: 128M
/sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:00.0/resource0: 256M
/opt/03Jun05/firefox-1.0.4-source.tar.bz2: 32M

Above command will find all files block size greater than 20000k and print filename followed by the file size. Output is more informative as compare to normal find command output. NOTE: some operating systems may output differently, so when awk is sorting through the characters your output may be displaying the wrong field. To correct this simply modify the number next to the "$" in the awk command to change the field to be printed.