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Listing files and directories

From: Unix for Mac OS X Users

Video: Listing files and directories

In the last movie we became familiar with the concept of the working directory and we saw how we could use pwd to show us our present working directory. Now what I want us to do is see how to see what files and folders are inside that present working directory, and we do that with the ls command. We got a peek at it earlier. ls on a line by itself will just list the contents of our present working directory. Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Library and so on. If we look over here that exactly matches what we see in the Finder window. Desktop, Documents, Downloads and so on.

Listing files and directories

In the last movie we became familiar with the concept of the working directory and we saw how we could use pwd to show us our present working directory. Now what I want us to do is see how to see what files and folders are inside that present working directory, and we do that with the ls command. We got a peek at it earlier. ls on a line by itself will just list the contents of our present working directory. Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Library and so on. If we look over here that exactly matches what we see in the Finder window. Desktop, Documents, Downloads and so on.

In addition we can pass in some options to ls. We could do man ls and see a list of all of those, but I am just going to show you the couple that I think are the most important. ls -l is going to give us a different kind of listing. ls -l option, now we get them in a vertical format. Notice the last column there still has the file names, but going top to bottom and then over to the left, all those other columns give us information about the file, the size of it, the permissions on it, the owner of it, the time, all those things we'll talk about lot later on, we'll get into those, but just ls -l will show you this different version of it.

If we add another option to it, we can do it with or without the l, but I like doing it with it. ls -la and hit Return. Now we get that same list, but notice that we got a few extra files there. There is ., .., .CFUserTextEncoding, .DS_Store, .Trash and .bash_history. Now you may or may not have exactly those same ones. Don't worry about it. The important thing to understand is that the dot represents the current directory. That's all it is. It's that sort of symbol or a placeholder that means this directory that I'm in right now.

Dot dot refers to the parent of this directory. It's the directory that's right above this, and in this case because our pwd returns users kevin, .. is a reference to Users. But we are always going to have dot and dot dot to refer to those two directories. The other four files there are what we call dot files, because they begin with the dot and dot files are invisible config files. Notice that they don't show up here. The Finder is set to hide dot files by default.

We don't need to see them. They are just configuration files. So for example .Trash is files that are in the trash. That's where my trash is. If you ever wondered how does it know when files are in the trash, well, it moves them from let's say your desktop into this folder and it sits there waiting in this hidden folder until you throw them away, and then it empties out that folder. That's where those trash files are stored. Then we have DS_Store. That's actually for the Mac desktop, the Finder, to store different options about how we're viewing this folder.

Whether it is in this sort of layout, the size of the window, the position of the icons, all that gets stored in this little configuration DS_Store. Bash_history we'll talk about later, but that's where we store history of those commands that we have been typing and then user text encoding is another just configuration file that the Mac uses. Notice that there is also another difference here. Some of these have Ds at the front of the line while some of them just simply have dashes. The dashes is a file. The d is a directory. That's what it's letting you know. That's your tip-off of whether something is a directory or not, is whether that line begins with the D.

There is a third possibility that sometimes shows up there that we'll talk about later. Instead of D and dash you could have an L, which will be for a link or a shortcut. It's like an alias in Unix. So that's how we list the files. That's how we see the files that are there. We can pass in just ls, if we just want a very simple list. We can pass in ls -la if we want that longer list and actually one other thing I like to add as an option is ls -lah, and that returns the size of these different things in human readable format. 510 bytes, 15 kB, 1.1 k. That just gives us a nicer size that I think is a little more pleasant to read.

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This video is part of

Image for Unix for Mac OS X Users
Unix for Mac OS X Users

82 video lessons · 27188 viewers

Kevin Skoglund
Author

 
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  1. 3m 57s
    1. Introduction
      1m 14s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 43s
  2. 32m 2s
    1. What is Unix?
      7m 27s
    2. The terminal application
      4m 23s
    3. Logging in and using the command prompt
      5m 19s
    4. Command structure
      5m 22s
    5. Kernel and shells
      5m 25s
    6. Unix manual pages
      4m 6s
  3. 15m 58s
    1. The working directory
      2m 49s
    2. Listing files and directories
      3m 59s
    3. Moving around the filesystem
      4m 58s
    4. Filesystem organization
      4m 12s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. Naming files
      5m 41s
    2. Creating files
      2m 19s
    3. Unix text editors
      6m 39s
    4. Reading files
      5m 35s
    5. Reading portions of files
      3m 27s
    6. Creating directories
      2m 40s
    7. Moving and renaming files and directories
      8m 32s
    8. Copying files and directories
      3m 7s
    9. Deleting files and directories
      3m 38s
    10. Finder aliases in Unix
      4m 10s
    11. Hard links
      5m 30s
    12. Symbolic links
      6m 36s
    13. Searching for files and directories
      6m 32s
  5. 34m 58s
    1. Who am I?
      4m 3s
    2. Unix groups
      1m 52s
    3. File and directory ownership
      6m 41s
    4. File and directory permissions
      4m 27s
    5. Setting permissions using alpha notation
      6m 49s
    6. Setting permissions using octal notation
      3m 49s
    7. The root user
      1m 57s
    8. sudo and sudoers
      5m 20s
  6. 52m 34s
    1. Command basics
      4m 4s
    2. The PATH variable
      4m 13s
    3. System information commands
      3m 40s
    4. Disk information commands
      6m 8s
    5. Viewing processes
      5m 0s
    6. Monitoring processes
      3m 36s
    7. Stopping processes
      3m 19s
    8. Text file helpers
      6m 50s
    9. Utility programs
      7m 28s
    10. Using the command history
      8m 16s
  7. 20m 39s
    1. Standard input and standard output
      1m 24s
    2. Directing output to a file
      4m 13s
    3. Appending to a file
      2m 44s
    4. Directing input from a file
      5m 28s
    5. Piping output to input
      4m 40s
    6. Suppressing output
      2m 10s
  8. 41m 28s
    1. Profile, login, and resource files
      9m 11s
    2. Setting command aliases
      6m 59s
    3. Setting and exporting environment variables
      4m 54s
    4. Setting the PATH variable
      6m 10s
    5. Configuring history with variables
      6m 17s
    6. Customizing the command prompt
      6m 5s
    7. Logout file
      1m 52s
  9. 1h 25m
    1. grep: Searching for matching expressions
      5m 21s
    2. grep: Multiple files, other input
      4m 28s
    3. grep: Coloring matched text
      2m 57s
    4. Introduction to regular expressions
      3m 22s
    5. Regular expressions: Basic syntax
      3m 19s
    6. Using regular expressions with grep
      5m 20s
    7. tr: Translating characters
      8m 17s
    8. tr: Deleting and squeezing characters
      5m 30s
    9. sed: Stream editor
      7m 45s
    10. sed: Regular expressions and back-references
      7m 8s
    11. cut: Cutting select text portions
      7m 42s
    12. diff: Comparing files
      4m 35s
    13. diff: Alternative formats
      4m 30s
    14. xargs: Passing argument lists to commands
      7m 25s
    15. xargs: Usage examples
      7m 59s
  10. 42m 25s
    1. Finder integration
      4m 45s
    2. Clipboard integration
      5m 5s
    3. Screen capture
      3m 42s
    4. Shut down, reboot, and sleep
      3m 34s
    5. Text to speech
      2m 36s
    6. Spotlight integration: Searching metadata
      3m 41s
    7. Spotlight integration: Metadata attributes
      4m 24s
    8. Using AppleScript
      5m 23s
    9. System configurations: Viewing and setting
      5m 51s
    10. System configurations: Examples
      3m 24s
  11. 1m 26s
    1. Conclusion
      1m 26s

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