I have a directory with a bunch of files extensions mixed and I would like to list a specific file extension (maybe something like grep *.mp3) and while listing, delete them with an output. How can I do that or if there's a dupe, please feel free to tag me in.


grep "*.mp3" . | rm -fr 

3 Answers 3


Let's start with a directory with three mp3 files:

$ ls *mp3
a.mp3  b.mp3  c.mp3

Now, let's delete them after we list what we are deleting:

$ find . -maxdepth 1 -name '*.mp3' -printf 'Deleting %p\n' -delete
Deleting ./a.mp3
Deleting ./b.mp3
Deleting ./c.mp3

After this is done, the mp3 files are gone:

$ ls *mp3
ls: cannot access '*mp3': No such file or directory

How it works

  • `find .

    This starts a find command. It will look for files in the current directory, ..

  • -maxdepth 1

    By default, find recursively searches subdirectories. This tells it not to do that. With -maxdepth 1, the command find will only look at what it finds in the current directory and not explore any of the current directory's subdirectories.

  • -name '*.mp3'

    This tells find to look only for files with the .mp3 extension.

  • -printf 'Deleting %p\n'

    This tells find to print a message about each file found.

    You can, of course, change this to another message if you like. If you don't want a message, then this option can be omitted entirely.

  • -delete

    This tells find to delete each file.

Case insensitive search

If you also want to find files named .MP3 or .Mp3 etc., then we need a case-insensitive search and we use -iname:

find . -maxdepth 1 -iname '*.mp3' -printf 'Deleting %p\n' -delete
  • -iname seems better because there are MP3 files that end in .MP3.
    – edwinksl
    Sep 24, 2016 at 5:50
  • @edwinksl OK. I added that to the answer.
    – John1024
    Sep 24, 2016 at 5:53
  • Thanks for the heads up! worked perfectly... I though of the find command but no sure why I haven't gone this route. BTW, I'm pretty confused about -maxdepth 1 on This tells it not to.h 1. I'm lost at and would you mind repeating the explanation a bit, please.
    – AzkerM
    Sep 24, 2016 at 7:19
  • Okay! I figured out looking the other user's answer. Thank you BTW.
    – AzkerM
    Sep 24, 2016 at 7:21
  • @AzkerM Oops: something went wrong with my editing there! Answer updated. Glad you figured it figured out anyway.
    – John1024
    Sep 24, 2016 at 7:49

You want find...

find . -type f -iname "*.mp3"

By default it will recurse to subdirectories, so if you are getting more files than you want, add -maxdepth 1 to search in the current directory only. After checking that the output is what you want to delete, you can do it again (thank you up-arrow...) and add -delete.

find . -type f -iname "*.mp3" -delete

. is the current working directory - you can give the path to the directory here instead if you are not in it...

To make it interactive, you could use -exec to define your own action instead of find's -delete action

find . -type f -iname "*.mp3" -exec rm -i -- {} \;

Then it will prompt you before deleting each file...

  • Thank you for your explanation too. Now I understood why -maxdepth 1 is used. This is to pretty much stay in the current directory. ^_^
    – AzkerM
    Sep 24, 2016 at 7:21
  • yes @AzkerM or to stay in the directory specified (you could give a path instead of the current dir like find ~/Downloads -maxdepth 1 -type f -iname "*.mp3") and not go into any subdirectories :)
    – Zanna
    Sep 24, 2016 at 7:23
  • Yes, specifying the directory path is pretty clear to me but the -maxdepth 1 actually made sense to me now. You're good at explaining and Kudos to that :)
    – AzkerM
    Sep 24, 2016 at 7:27
  • :D thanks @AzkerM & thanks for the nice question
    – Zanna
    Sep 24, 2016 at 7:28
  • Well, it was a stupid question I know but the explaining makes it understand more on what we actually do. That's what matters to me most than typing a bunch of commands... :D
    – AzkerM
    Sep 24, 2016 at 7:28

When you want to delete only items in current directory, it is sufficient to use the wildcard like so:

$ ls *.jpeg
birthday2016_001.jpeg  birthday2016_002.jpeg  birthday2016_003.jpeg
$ rm *.jpeg
$ ls *.jpeg
ls: cannot access '*.jpeg': No such file or directory

As you can see, in the example above, all files with .jpeg extension got removed. Listing them , is the same idea - echo *.jpeg and ls *.jpeg. So you essentially could do simply ls *.mp3 && rm *.mp3 for your case

Python alternative:

In my case, I was removing .jpeg file, so adjust the code below as necessary:

 python -c 'import os,sys;[(sys.stdout.write(i + "\n"),os.unlink(i)) for i in os.listdir(".")  if i.endswith(".jpeg")]'

Sample run:

$ ls *.jpeg
birthday2016_001.jpeg  birthday2016_002.jpeg  birthday2016_003.jpeg     
$ python -c 'import os,sys;[(sys.stdout.write(i + "\n"),os.unlink(i)) for i in os.listdir(".")  if i.endswith(".jpeg")]'
$ ls *.jpeg
ls: cannot access '*.jpeg': No such file or directory
  • 1
    Thank you for simplifying it. ls *.mp3 && rm *.mp3 actually make sense.. didn't think of this way at all.. Also, thank you for the python alternative, I should get myself a little knowledge on python.. :)
    – AzkerM
    Sep 25, 2016 at 6:30

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