There where few occasions when I wanted to know the total number of files in any given directory. Well the default file manager shipped with the OS does give you a count of files on current directory, but not recursively. That is if you have folder(s) on the current directory and files within them that count is not shown. But I wanted to know the whole number.

So I wrote following Python script which goes through given folder(s) and folder within them recursively, count files and give me the total number.


Copy the content and save in a file. (ex: or just download it)
Now you should be able to run it like this:

python . # current directory (default)
python . dir_2 /home/lenin # count files in current directory, dir_2, and /home/lenin directory

# or do this
chmod +x
sudo mv /usr/local/bin/count-files

# then from anywhere in terminal
count-files ~/Downloads # count files in Download directory


After few searching I did find some linux command to do this same task. One of which was using ls command combined with wc command like this:

ls ~/Downloads | wc -l

Aka list the files in Downloads directory and only give me the count of lines (pipe wc -l). Great! Now do that recursively, which is what I actually want:

ls -R ~/Downloads | wc -l

Ahhh... wait, the answer is wired! It's not correct! Because ls command also prints/lists directory as well! And it has its own special format to print them. So when wc tries to count number of lines the result is way bigger number than actual result.

Alternative 2, the awesome find command. Something like this:

find ~/Downloads -type f | wc -l

That is find every file type in Downloads directory, recursively, then give me the total number. Sweet! Event better

find ~/Downloads ~/Documents -type f | wc -l

Yap! find can give you number of files in multiple folders as well. But all as a total number :p


I did noticed few things:

  1. find command is way faster then my script
  2. find is giving slightly less number than my script and when I checked the diff of their file listings, surprisingly find wasn't listing few files! Don't really know why?!
  3. Am planning to add few more flags for listing the files instead of just showing the total number.