Is there a way to get absolute path of a file that is being searched?

For example:

find .. -name "filename"

It gives me results like ../filename but I want the full path.

What I need is to find in the parent directory and its children, for a specific file, that I will use in another script later.



Try something like:

find "$(cd ..; pwd)" -name "filename"
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  • Thanks, I was just testing $(cd ..; pwd). Here it works OK, but if I do it alone in a Terminal, I can't get the parent dir... I get "Bash: <dir>: Is a directory. And if I do $(cd ..; echo "something") I get "something: not a command" – JorgeeFG Apr 7 '14 at 15:52
  • Do you mean like a separate command? Then you would need to leave out the dollar sign: (cd ..; pwd) – Scrutinizer Apr 7 '14 at 15:53
  • Thanks, that was it. Any reference of why should I remove the $, how does it affect the subshell? – JorgeeFG Apr 7 '14 at 15:56
  • 1
    Yes ( ... ) means execute in a subshell, the output gets written to stdout. $( ... ) stands for "command substitution". The latter can be used as if it were a variable expansion. – Scrutinizer Apr 7 '14 at 16:03
  • find / -name "filename" – Panther Apr 7 '14 at 18:48

Try using the -exec option of find:

find .. -name "filename" -exec readlink -f {} \;

Note: readlink prints the value of a symbolic link or canonical file name.

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    this will call readlink on every file so it will be very ineffective. – bac0n Oct 16 '19 at 18:20

You can use bash's Tilde Expansion to get the absolute path of the current working directory, this way find prints the absolute path for the results as well:

find ~+ -type f -name "filename"

If executed in ~/Desktop, this is expanded to

find /home/yourusername/Desktop -type f -name "filename"

and prints results like:


If you want to use this approach with the current working directory’s parent directory you need to cd before calling find:

cd .. && find ~+ -type f -name "filename"
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The simplest way is

find "$(pwd -P)" -name "filename"
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  • Yes! Or find `pwd -P` -name "filename" – Apollys supports Monica Jul 24 '19 at 0:35
  • this will find files in the current directory not from parent. – bac0n Oct 16 '19 at 18:21

This worked for me, but will only return the first occurrence.

realpath $(find . -type f -name filename -print -quit)

To get full paths for all occurrences (as suggested by Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy)

find . -type f -name filename | xargs realpath
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  • Previous comment removed, +1, good job @Wyrmwood – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Oct 16 '19 at 20:51
  • Exactly what I needed (just the first occurrence and to print the full path including the filename in the output. Thank you Sir – Kyle Bridenstine Apr 3 at 18:09
  • this doesn't work for files with whitespaces – peixotorms May 21 at 11:19

Also using PWD can show you the full directory. Pwd will show you all your directorys you are in like the expanding of filename. Hope this helped.

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Removing last directory component with parameter Expansion.

find "${PWD%/*}" -name 'filename'

An example of how you can use mapfile to save output from find to an indexed array for later use.

mapfile -t -d '' < <(find ${PWD%/*} -name 'filename' -print0)

(if no array name is specified, MAPFILE will be the default array name).

for i in "${MAPFILE[@]}"; do
    echo "$((n++)) $i"
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