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15.5 Matching All "Dot Files" with Wildcards

If you want to match all files in a directory whose names do not start with a dot (.), it's easy: just use an asterisk (*). But what about files that do start with a dot? That's harder because dot-asterisk (.*) matches the directory links named . and .. that are in every directory; you usually won't want to match those.

The Korn and some Bourne shells, as well as bash, let you use the sequence .[!.]* to match all dot files, where [!.] means "anything but a dot." tcsh understands .[^.]* instead.

Otherwise, what can you do? You can use .??*, which matches all filenames that start with a dot and have at least two characters, but that doesn't match filenames like .a with just one character after the dot. Here's the answer:


That expression matches all filenames whose second character is in the ASCII chart (51.3) but isn't a dot or a slash (/). The range starts with CTRL-a (^A is an actual CTRL-a character, not the two characters ^ and A) and runs through a dash (-). Then it covers the range from zero (0) through DEL or CTRL-? (make by pressing your DELETE or RUBOUT key; you may have to type CTRL-v or a backslash (\) first).

Yuck - that's sort of complicated. To make it easy, I set that sequence in a shell variable named dots from my shell setup file (2.2). Here are three versions; the third is for shells whose built-in echo doesn't understand \nnn sequences:

set dots=".[`echo Y-0-Z | tr YZ \\001\\177`]"   csh
dots=".[`echo \\\\001-0-\\\\0177`]*"   sh, etc.
dots=".[`echo Y-0-Z | tr YZ \\001\\177`]*"   sh with old echo

(The tr command in backquotes (9.16) turns the expression Y--0-Z into the range with CTRL-a and DEL that we want. That keeps ugly, unprintable characters out of the .cshrc file. See article 45.35.) So, for example, I could move all files out of the current directory to another directory by typing:

% mv * $dots /somedir

- JP

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