How to Delete Files with Find

delete files with find

Deleting files is a common task for system administrators and developers. However, when dealing with large numbers of files, manually deleting them can be a tedious and time-consuming process. Fortunately, the find command provides an efficient way to delete files in bulk.

What is the find command?

The find command is a powerful tool used to search for files and directories in a specified location. It is available on most Unix-based systems, including Linux and macOS. The find command can be used to locate files based on a variety of criteria, such as file name, size, modification time, and ownership.


The basic syntax of the find command is:

find [path] [expression]
  • path: The starting directory for the search. If no path is specified, the current directory is used.
  • expression: The search criteria used to find files.

Using find to delete files

To delete files with find, you can use the -delete option, which deletes all the files that match the specified criteria. Here’s an example:

find /path/to/files -name "*.txt" -delete

This command deletes all files with the .txt extension in the /path/to/files directory and its subdirectories.

You can also use other criteria to delete files. For example, to delete all files modified more than 30 days ago, you can use the following command:

find /path/to/files -type f -mtime +30 -delete

This command deletes all regular files (-type f) in the /path/to/files directory and its subdirectories that were last modified more than 30 days ago (-mtime +30).

Confirming file deletion

By default, the find command does not provide any confirmation when deleting files. To confirm each file deletion, you can use the -ok option instead of -delete. For example:

find /path/to/files -name "*.txt" -ok rm {} ;

This command prompts you to confirm the deletion of each file that matches the search criteria.


Using the find command to delete files can save you a lot of time and effort, especially when dealing with large numbers of files. However, it’s important to use caution when deleting files, as there is no way to recover them once they are deleted. Always double-check your search criteria before running the find command with the -delete option.

In conclusion, find is a powerful command-line tool that can be used to search for and delete files in a specified location. By mastering find, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort when managing files and directories on your system.