How to show a list of files from some directory root sorted in file size descending order from command line?

  • 2
    ls -lS sorts files from largest to smallest. man ls will show you this.
    – Terrance
    Mar 9, 2016 at 18:34

5 Answers 5


From your folder:

find . -maxdepth 1 -type f -exec du -h {} + | sort --human-numeric-sort --reverse

You can set how deep it can look for files with -maxdepth parameter or without it to be recursive.


If you want to list everything in the directory recursively, use either find or du with sort:

find /some/path -type f -printf '%s %p\n' | sort -rn
du -h /some/path | sort -rh

The former will show only files, and size in bytes. The latter will show both file and cumulative directory sizes, in human-readable (using KB, MB, etc.) format. sort accordingly uses numeric for the former (-n) and human-readable for the latter (-h).

With more complexity, the best option would be:

find /some/path -type f -print0 | du --files0-from=- -0h | sort -rzh | tr '\0' '\n'

du can read a NUL-delimited list of files from input, and find can print NUL-delimited filenames using -print0. sort can then take the NUL-delimited list of sizes and filenames and sort them, and finally you replace NULs with newlines for convenient display.

Since filenames and paths can contain anything except the ASCII NUL character, using NUL-delimited lines will processing them is the safest way.

You can also get find to print the size as seen in the first command, but with -printf '%s %p\0' to still use NUL-delimited lines, and skip using du as the middle man.


As @Terrance said, ls -lS sorts files in descending order. For all of the files, ls -lSa works.


It is sufficient to use du and sort

du --max-depth 1 * | sort -n -k1

Example of the output ,

$ du --max-depth 1 * | sort -n -k1
4   bin/CS-1400
4   bin/csrc
4   bin/DIR@YOLO
4   bin/EET2350
4   bin/HW6
4   RS232Functions.c
4   RS232Functions.c~
4   Untitled Folder
8   1204686.docx_en-US_zh-CN.docx
8   bin/shell
16  MSUDenver_50th_Formal.png
20  bb0239ba-1718-4778-b19a-3826f36a95cd.png
20  mainLogo.png
32  bin/ala
32  bin/Online_book
60  bin/HORTON
72  bin/JAVA-OTHER

This command will sort by size in kb

du -sk * | sort -n

You can reverse it with:

du -sk * | sort -rn

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