linux - recursive - unix count files in directory and subdirectories

Recursively counting files in a Linux directory (14)

Combining several of the answers here together, the most useful solution seems to be:

find . -maxdepth 1 -type d -print0 | xargs -0 -I {} sh -c 'echo -e $(find "{}" -printf "\n" | wc -l) "{}"' | sort -n

It can handle odd things like file names that include spaces parenthesis and even new lines. It also sorts the output by the number of files.

You can increase the number after -maxdepth to get sub directories counted too. Keep in mind that this can potentially take a long time, particularly if you have a highly nested directory structure in combination with a high -maxdepth number.

How can I recursively count files in a Linux directory?

I found this:

find DIR_NAME -type f ¦ wc -l

But when I run this it returns the following error.

find: paths must precede expression: ¦

For the current directory:

find . -type f | wc -l

If what you need is to count a specific file type recursively, you can do:

find YOUR_PATH -name '*.html' | wc -l 

-l is just to display the number of lines in the output.

If you want a breakdown of how many files are in each dir under your current dir:

for i in $(find . -maxdepth 1 -type d) ; do 
    echo -n $i": " ; 
    (find $i -type f | wc -l) ; 

That can go all on one line, of course. The parenthesis clarify whose output wc -l is supposed to be watching (find $i -type f in this case).

If you want to know how many files and sub-directories exist from the present working directory you can use this one-liner

find . -maxdepth 1 -type d -print0 | xargs -0 -I {} sh -c 'echo -e $(find {} | wc -l) {}' | sort -n

This will work in GNU flavour, and just omit the -e from the echo command for BSD linux (e.g. OSX).

On my computer, rsync is a little bit faster than find | wc -l in the accepted answer. For example you can count the files in /Users/joe/ like this:

[joe:~] $ rsync --stats --dry-run -ax /Users/joe/ /xxx

Number of files: 173076
Number of files transferred: 150481
Total file size: 8414946241 bytes
Total transferred file size: 8414932602 bytes

The second line has the number of files, 150,481 in the above example. As a bonus you get the total size as well (in bytes).


  • the first line is a count of files, directories, symlinks, etc all together, that's why it is bigger than the second line.
  • the --dry-run (or -n for short) option is important to not actually transfer the files!
  • the /xxx parameter can be any empty or non existing folder. Don't use / here.
  • I used the -x option to "don't cross filesystem boundaries", which means if you execute it for / and you have external hard disks attached, it will only count the files on the root partition.

There are many correct answers here. Here's another!

find . -type f | sort | uniq -w 10 -c

where . is the folder to look in and 10 is the number of characters by which to group the directory.

This alternate approach with filtering for format counts all available grub kernel modules:

ls -l /boot/grub/*.mod | wc -l

This will work completely fine. Simple short. If you want to count the number of files present in a folder.

ls | wc -l

To determine how many files there are in the current directory, put in ls -1 | wc -l. This uses wc to do a count of the number of lines (-l) in the output of ls -1. It doesn't count dotfiles. Please note that ls -l (that's an "L" rather than a "1" as in the previous examples) which I used in previous versions of this HOWTO will actually give you a file count one greater than the actual count. Thanks to Kam Nejad for this point.

If you want to count only files and NOT include symbolic links (just an example of what else you could do), you could use ls -l | grep -v ^l | wc -l (that's an "L" not a "1" this time, we want a "long" listing here). grep checks for any line beginning with "l" (indicating a link), and discards that line (-v).

Relative speed: "ls -1 /usr/bin/ | wc -l" takes about 1.03 seconds on an unloaded 486SX25 (/usr/bin/ on this machine has 355 files). "ls -l /usr/bin/ | grep -v ^l | wc -l" takes about 1.19 seconds.


You can use the command ncdu. It will recursively count how many files a Linux directory contains. Here is an example of output:

It has a progress bar, which is convenient if you have many files:

To install it on Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install -y ncdu

Benchmark: I used (380390 files, 11 GB) as the folder where one has to count the number of files.

  • find . -type f | wc -l: around 1m20s to complete
  • ncdu: around 1m20s to complete

You can use

$ tree

after installing the tree package with

$ sudo apt-get install tree

(on a Debian / Mint / Ubuntu Linux machine).

The command shows not only the count of the files, but also the count of the directories, separately. The option -L can be used to specify the maximum display level (which, by default, is the maximum depth of the directory tree).

Hidden files can be included too by supplying the -a option .

find -type f | wc -l

OR (If directory is current directory)

find . -type f | wc -l

ls -l | grep -e -x -e -dr | wc -l 
  1. long list
  2. filter files and dirs
  3. count the filtered line no