Suppose I have a directory /dir inside which there are 3 symlinks to other directories /dir/dir11, /dir/dir12, and /dir/dir13. I want to list all the files in dir including the ones in dir11, dir12 and dir13.

To be more generic, I want to list all files including the ones in the directories which are symlinks. find ., ls -R, etc stop at the symlink without navigating into them to list further.

6/14/2019 7:20:54 PM

Accepted Answer

The -L option to ls will accomplish what you want. It dereferences symbolic links.

So your command would be:

ls -LR

You can also accomplish this with

find -follow

The -follow option directs find to follow symbolic links to directories.

On Mac OS X use

find -L

as -follow has been deprecated.

2/23/2016 9:59:22 PM

find /dir -type f -follow -print

-type f means it will display real files (not symlinks)

-follow means it will follow your directory symlinks

-print will cause it to display the filenames.

If you want a ls type display, you can do the following

find /dir -type f -follow -print|xargs ls -l

Using ls:

  ls -LR

from 'man ls':

   -L, --dereference
          when showing file information for a symbolic link, show informa‐
          tion  for  the file the link references rather than for the link

Or, using find:

find -L .

From the find manpage:

-L     Follow symbolic links.

If you find you want to only follow a few symbolic links (like maybe just the toplevel ones you mentioned), you should look at the -H option, which only follows symlinks that you pass to it on the commandline.


find -L /var/www/ -type l

# man find
-L     Follow  symbolic links.  When find examines or prints information about files, the information used shall be taken from the

properties of the file to which the link points, not from the link itself (unless it is a broken symbolic link or find is unable to examine the file to which the link points). Use of this option implies -noleaf. If you later use the -P option, -noleaf will still be in effect. If -L is in effect and find discovers a symbolic link to a subdirectory during its search, the subdirectory pointed to by the symbolic link will be searched.


I knew tree was an appropriate, but I didn't have tree installed. So, I got a pretty close alternate here

find ./ | sed -e 's/[^-][^\/]*\//--/g;s/--/ |-/'

ls -R -L

-L dereferences symbolic links. This will also make it impossible to see any symlinks to files, though - they'll look like the pointed-to file.


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