I have a folder which has multiple sub-folders and sub sub folders. I want to print the content of a file called result.txt which is present in many sub folders or sub sub folders into a csv file along with the name of the sub-folder.

That means if the files named result.txt are in


Then I need a csv file which should have

1. abc   content of its result.txt
2. efg    content of its result.txt

and so on.

I started with the following find command

find . -iname 'result.txt' "a portion of path" "content">final.csv

How should I proceed from here ?

Note: (8th December, 2017) Although the below solutions display the content properly on the terminal , none of them work when I add >final.csv. As already mentioned, my result.txt has mutilines. The content of a particular result.txt gets spilled to different cells rather than being in a single cell. Any suggestions ?

  • What if there's a/b/result.txt and a/c/result.txt as well?
    – dessert
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:07
  • the first sub-folder name is unique
    – user8109
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:08
  • I can reduce the constraints if this seems too tough. The first column in .csv can have the name of entire path.
    – user8109
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:16
  • 1
    Shouldn't a .csv be comma separated? ;P
    – dessert
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:20
  • 1
    space is just for clarity. you can replace space by comma.
    – user8109
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:26

4 Answers 4


I think find is the right choice:

find */ -name "result.txt" -exec bash -c 'printf "%s,%s\n" "${0%%/*}" "$(cat $0)"' {} \;

Example run

$ echo r1 >a/b/result.txt
$ echo r2 >c/result.txt
$ tree
├── a
│   └── b
│       └── result.txt
└── c
    └── result.txt
$ find */ -name "result.txt" -exec bash -c 'printf "%s,%s\n" "${0%%/*}" "$(cat $0)"' {} \;


This find command searches every file in or under the current directory of the name result.txt and executes the printf command in a bash subshell. The printf command prints the subdir's name, a comma and the file content followed by a \newline. If you want to write this output to a file, just append e.g. >final.csv to the command.

Even simpler

is the -printf approach suggested by steeldriver:

$ find */ -name 'result.txt' -printf '%H,' -exec cat {} \;

This prints an additional slash in the first column which you can easily remove by piping the output through e.g. sed 's|/,|,|'.

Merging multiline result.txt content into one cell

To replace newline characters with e.g. spaces just replace cat with sed ":a;N;\$!ba;s/\n/ /g" in one of the above commands, e.g.

$ find */ -name "result.txt" -exec bash -c 'printf "%s,%s\n" "${0%%/*}" "$(sed ":a;N;\$!ba;s/\n/ /g" $0)"' {} \;
a,r1 r1

If you want some other string as the delimiter replace the / / part with /your_delimiter/, but keep the slashes.

  • 2
    If (as the OP states in comments) there is only one occurrence of result.txt under each top-level directory, then you simplify that to find */ -name 'result.txt' -printf '%H,' -exec cat {} \; I think Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:43

Well, here's a way (now edited to turn line breaks into spaces, thanks to this answer on Stack Overflow):

shopt -s globstar
n=0; for i in **/result.txt; do sed -e ":l;N;\$!bl;s/\n/ /g; s/.*/$((++n))\. "${i%%/*}"\t&/" "$i"; done

You can add a redirection to write to a file

n=0; for i in **/result.txt; do sed ":l;N;\$!bl;s/\n/ /g; s/.*/$((++n))\. "${i%%/*}"\t&/" "$i"; done > outfile


  • n=0 set a variable to increment
  • shopt -s globstar Turn on recursive globbing with ** to find all files in directories below this one (unset with shopt -u globstar afterwards, or exit the shell and start a new one)
  • :l set a label for this action
  • N read two lines into the pattern space (this allows us to use \n)
  • \$! not if this is the last line of the file... we have to escape $ because the whole command is double quoted so that the shell can expand $i etc. But this $ needs to be passed intact to sed, where it means "the last line of the file". I recommend using single quotes for sed scripts unless you have to pass shell variables in them.
  • bl ...branch to label (do it again)
  • s/old/new replace old with new
  • s/\n/ /g for all the newline characters in the pattern space (all but the last one), replace the newline with a space
  • .* any number of any characters (anything in the file)
  • $((++n)) increment n with each iteration of the loop
  • \. literal dot (commas are not treated specially by sed; they will be printed literally)
  • "${i%%/*}" the name of the first subdirectory of the current one in the path of the file we are dealing with (strip all characters after the first /)
  • & the matched pattern from the search section (anything in the file)
  • -- do not interpret leading - in subsequent arguments as prepending option flags. This prevents filenames beginning with - being interpreted as options. This is unnecessary in this specific case, because we are searching explicitly for result.txt and only files with this exact name will be passed to the loop. However, I have included it, in case anyone needs to reuse this script with a glob.

Here's a more readable version, which is also more portable (should work in all versions of sed) as is uses newlines instead of ; to separate commands:


shopt -s globstar
for i in **/result.txt; do
         sed ":l      
              s/\n/ /g
              s/.*/$((++n))\.,"${i%%/*}",&/" -- "$i"
done > outfile
  • is there a way if the file is multi line?
    – user8109
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:14
  • the result.txt file is not too big. I want it to fill one cell only
    – user8109
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:19
  • name of sub-folder in the first column and the output of subfolder's unique mutltiline result.txt file in next column. One result.txt file should fill only 1 cell.
    – user8109
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:24
  • @Zanna Just delete line breaks. That's what I would do. Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:27
  • 2
    @Zanna If there's someone who can figure it out via sed, it's you :) Because you're awesome Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:31

Bash script solution

# If $1 is not given, find will assume cwd
    local inputfile="$1"
    while IFS= read -r line || [ -n "$line" ];do
        printf "%s\\" "$line"
    done < "$inputfile"

    local filepath="$1"
    if [ "$parent" = "$filepath"  ]; then
    printf "%d,%s," "$counter" "$parent"

    if [ -z "$1"  ];then
        set "."

    find "$1" -type f -name "result.txt" -print0 |
    while IFS= read -r -d ''  path
        get_file_info "$path"
        print_file "$path"
        printf "\n"

main "$@"

The way this works is that you should save this as file, for example results2csv.sh, make executable with chmod +x and run either by giving full path to the script or place it into ~/bin folder, run source ~/.bashrc and call the script by name.

Here's how this script works:

$ ./result2csv.sh things                                                    
1,things/thing2,to be or not to be\that's Boolean logic\
2,things/thing1,one potato\two potato\

Give the script the top-most directory, and it will go through the subdirectories finding the files and output the path to file in accordance with how you specified top most directory. So, for example if you specified ./things as top most, it would result in first line having ./thing/things2 as path to file. Newlines are replaced with backslashes to show file contents. Note that it will also assume current working directory "." if directory isn't specified.

$ cd things
$ ../result2csv.sh                                                          
1,./thing2,to be or not to be\that's Boolean logic\
2,./thing1,one potato\two potato\

All you have to do now, is call results2csv.sh directory > output.csv to output data into a file, and you're done


I don't know exactly how to do it with just terminal commands, but I have done similar thing using python script from this thread:


With this you can easily add funcionality to write lines to CSV file:

https://docs.python.org/2/library/csv.html for Python 2

https://docs.python.org/3/library/csv.html for Python 3

  • 4
    It's good to reference old work you've done and Python is very much welcome here, but it's better if you actually adapt code to suit particular question, and post it in the answer, not just provide a link Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:25

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