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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().


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 guarantueed 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 dirctories but to proceed normally otherwise.


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 cd'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.


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


If set, directories (subtrees) which fail the untaint_pattern are skipped. 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 symblic 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.