I want to carry out some action (say chown) on all the hidden files in a directory.

I know that this .* is not a good idea because it will also find the current . and parent .. directories (I know that rm will fail to operate on . and .. but other commands, including chown and chmod, will happily take effect)

But all my hidden files have different names!

How should I glob for all hidden files while excluding . and .. ?


You can use the following extglob pattern:

  • . matches a literal . at first

  • @() is a extglob pattern, will match one of the patterns inside, as we have only one pattern inside it, it will pick that

  • !(.|) is another extglob pattern (nested), which matches any file with no or one .; As we have matched . at start already, this whole pattern will match all files starting with . except . and ...

extglob is enabled on interactive sessions of bash by default in Ubuntu. If not, enable it first:

shopt -s extglob


$ echo .@(!(.|))
.bar .foo .spam
  • This is clearly an awesome thing I need to learn about! Thank you for teaching – Zanna Sep 26 '16 at 10:38
  • @Zanna Glad i could help :) – heemayl Sep 26 '16 at 10:39
  • 2
    What is the purpose of the @()? Simple .!(.|) seems to work identically. – Kyle Strand Sep 26 '16 at 16:49
  • 1
    I know that this is old, but I have the same question as @KyleStrand. In my tests, !(.|) works the same. Is there any purpose behind @() in this context? – Paddy Landau Apr 2 '17 at 7:26
  • Is the bang character a negation? It is not mentioned, and reading your explanation, I get the impression, that the pattern matches dot and doubledot, but you clearly describe files which match a starting dot, except just those two. – user unknown May 14 '19 at 21:21

to hide the . and .. directories. This also sets the dotglob option: * matches both hidden and non-hidden files.

You can also do

shopt -s dotglob

Gilles :)


You can use a find command here. For example something like

find -type f -name ".*" -exec chmod 775 {} \;

This will find hidden files and change permissions

Edit to include the comment by @gerrit:

find -type f -maxdepth 1 -name ".*" -exec chmod 775 {} \;

This will limit the search top the current directory instead of searching recursively.

  • 4
    You might want to add a -maxdepth 1 here for it to more closely match the behaviour in the question and the other answers. – gerrit Sep 26 '16 at 14:18

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