Normally to remove files with spaces in their filename you would have to run:

$ rm "file name"

but if I want to remove multiple files, e.g.:

$ find . -name "*.txt" | xargs rm

This will not delete files with spaces in them.


You can tell find and xargs to both use null terminators

find . -name "*.txt" -print0 | xargs -0 rm

or (simpler) use the built-in -delete action of find

find . -name "*.txt" -delete

or (thanks @kos)

find . -name "*.txt" -exec rm {} +

either of which should respect the system's ARG_MAX limit without the need for xargs.

  • 1
    Can't upvote it twice tough :) since you mentioned ARG_MAX I'll also mention that find . -name "*.txt" -exec rm {} \; would be a "safe shot"
    – kos
    Aug 26 '15 at 15:36
  • 3
    Thus sayeth the master: always remember xargs -0.
    – Joshua
    Aug 26 '15 at 19:46
  • 1
    Super important point: -print0 must be the last option (or at least after -name "*.txt") otherwise this will hit files no longer limited to *.txt...
    – Kev
    Sep 8 '18 at 9:49

Incidentally, if you used something other than find, you can use tr to replace the newlines with null bytes.

Eg. the following one liner deletes the 10 last modified files in a directory, even if they have spaces in their names.

ls -tp | grep -v / | head -n 10 | tr "\n" "\0" | xargs -0 rm


The xargs command uses tabs, spaces, and new lines as delimiters by default. You can tell it to only use newline characters ('\n') with the -d option:

find . -name "*.txt" | xargs -d '\n' rm

Source answer on SO.

  • That answer mentions -0 instead of -d (for xargs) for BSD systems. What does Ubuntu use? The accepted answer here uses -0. What is correct? Jul 27 '18 at 14:28

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