I have an extremely simple script that currently executes a command on a file located in the same folder: command ./file_in_folder option output. It would be better if script asks user which file they want.

Can a simple script ask the OS's default GUI file manager to open and pass selected file back to script?

Fake Code:

  • User double click executable script
  • GUI file manager pops up
  • User selects <FILE>
  • Script executes command <FILE> option output

If no, what is recommended way to pass <FILE> to script that will execute command <FILE> option output?

  • 2
    I'm not sure if what you want is possible, so I'm not making a full answer; but for a simple script, you're probably better off using a text-based dialog creator, like Zenity. For a quick example, see askubuntu.com/questions/244836/… – chaskes Jan 31 '15 at 1:47
  • Alternately, you can always pass the name through STDIN and save it as a variable for later use. – heemayl Jan 31 '15 at 1:49
  • 1
    I second @chaskes, zenity is the tool for this. See the GNOME docs on file selection: help.gnome.org/users/zenity/stable/file-selection.html.en – muru Jan 31 '15 at 2:04
  • 1
    @muru Nice link to the docs. I haven't used Zenity for a while and forgot about some of the built-ins, like file-selector. You ought to make an answer. – chaskes Jan 31 '15 at 2:12
  • Or read a list of files (from ls maybe), display the results and ask for a "pick file number 1 through n", using zenity or just the terminal? – Xen2050 Jan 31 '15 at 4:03

Zenity can be used to make a GUI file picker, using the --file-selection option. For a single file, this is sufficient:

#! /bin/bash

file="$(zenity --title "Pick a file" --file-selection)"
do something with "$file"

enter image description here

Where it gets tricky is handling multiple files. There are only two characters not allowed in filenames: the ASCII NULL and /. /, of course, appears in paths. Therefore the only character you can safely pick to separate two filenames is NUL. You can't use NUL since the character has to be passed as a command line parameter.

You have two options:

  • Pick one file at a time using repeated selection dialogs.
  • Verify that each path returned by zenity is an absolute path and the file exists.

Something like:

#! /bin/bash

FILES=($(zenity --file-selection --multiple --separator='-' --title "Pick a file"))

for file in "${FILES[@]}"
    if [[ $file == /* && -f $file ]]
        echo $file

Of course, even this does not save us from a filename like /foo/bar-/etc/passwd. So be careful if your script runs with higher privileges than the user.

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