ls -d Linux Command Explained

Last updated: March 13, 2024 | Bobbin Zachariah

The ls command is commonly used to list the contents of a directory. This list includes directories and files. What about if you need list directories themselves? Let's take a look at ls -d Linux command.

What does ls -d stand for?

The ls -d command is used to list directories themselves in the list. That means the -d option tells ls to display information about the directory itself not about the contents inside it.

For example, I have a directory named Projects which contains some files and directories. The ls Projects lists files and directories in that directory whereas ls -d Projects simply returns "Projects".

ls -d Projects
ls -d listing the directory itself

To check the permissions of the directory itself run ls -ld Projects

listing permissions of the directory itself

Examples of Using ls -d

Let's look into some use cases of ls -d with examples.

List all directories in the current location

Use ls -d */ to list all directories in the current location. Where ls -d print directories without content and */ tell the shell to match all directories.

Example:

ls -d */
list all directories in the current directory

The output confirms only directories in the current directory are listed.

Note: if you remove / at the end ie ls -d * then it will list all files and directories.

List all hidden directories

In the previous example, it listed all directories. What about hidden directories?

Use ls -d .*/ to list all hidden directories in the current location.

Example:

ls -d .*/
list all hidden directories

The output confirms that only hidden directories in the current directory are listed.

To include both hidden directories and non-hidden directories (i.e., all directories), run:

ls -d */ .*/
list all hidden and non-hidden directories

Combining ls -d with Other Commands

The ls -d command can be combined with other Linux commands to perform actions specifically on directories. Let me show you a few examples.

The most common use case is to count the number of directories in a directory.

ls -d */ | wc -l
ls -d command with wc -l command

The output shows there are a total of 12 directories in the current directory. Note hidden directories are not included.

We can combine grep with ls -d to search specific patterns of directories. Examples

ls -d */ | grep i "tem"
ls -d command with grep

This command searches for directories with the pattern "tem" case insensitively in the current directory.

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