BASH Programming

Bash Check If File Not Exists

Regardless of any operating system you have been using, you must have used its file system at some point. These file systems are the main core of any system and let you save your data in it. There might be situations when you have to search for some particular file or directory from this file system using different search options.

Just like that, Linux came up with the Bash programming to search for a particular file using the Bash script in the terminal. We will be using the Bash shell scripts to look for the files in Ubuntu 20.04. Let’s get started. We have created a new Bash file with the name “” using the system’s “touch” query. To create a Bash script, we need to open this newly made file in the Linux “GNU Nano” editor.

$ touch
$ nano

Example 01

The empty file has been opened on your shell screen within the nano editor. We have to add the Bash support in it as “#!/bin/bash”. After this, we have initialized a “FILE” variable with the path to the file itself “” i.e., “/home/linux/”.  To check for the file exists or not, we will be using the “If-then” statement taking its conditions in the single square brackets in this Bash code. To check whether the file format, we need to use the “-f” option followed by the double-quoted variable “FILE” with the dollar character “$”. This is to check whether the given path to the file contains a file with the name “” or not.

The condition ends here and the “then” part of the statement starts. If the file exists, it will display the message that the file “” exists in the given path using the “echo” statement. The “if” statement ends here on “fi”.

Now, save your Bash code file with the Ctrl+S shortcut and exit your nano editor with Ctrl+X. We are back in the terminal. Now, we need to utilize the bash instruction to run the “” file. On executing, it shows that the file exists in the current directory specified in the code.

$ bash

Example 02

Let’s take a look at another example of checking for the Bash file existence. So, we have been utilizing the “if-else” statement here. Starting from adding the Bash support and initializing a variable “FILE” with the file name “” to search for this Bash file in the current directory. We have been using the double square brackets to specify the condition with the “-f” option for file search via the variable “$FILE”. Then, part will specify what needs to be implemented.

If the condition is true and the file exists, “then” part of the statement will get executed. The echo statement will display that the file exists. Otherwise, the else part of the “if-else” statement will get executed and the echo statement will display that the file does not exist.

We have saved this file and exited it with Ctrl+S and Ctrl+X respectively. On running this code file, we have got to know that this bash file “” doesn’t exist in our current directory.\

$ bash

Example 03

Let’s say, you want to use the “not” character in the “if-else” statement. You can do that by using the “!” exclamation mark before the option “-f” in the condition of an “if-else” statement. Add the variable “FILE” and initialize it with the relevant file path. Use “!” before “-f” in the condition as shown underneath.

Now, you need to update the “then” and “else” part of the statement according to the “!” condition. If the condition is satisfied and our file is not in our home folder, the “then” part will execute that “file doesn’t exist” using the “echo” statement. Or else, if the file exists, the else part will be executed and the echo statement will display that the file exists.

On running this code, the else part got executed and we saw the message “file does exist!” displayed on the shell.

$ bash

Example 04

The same thing can be achieved by using the same syntax of code in the Bash console without creating any Bash file. For this, you only have to utilize the “sh” command to open the Bash console. Now, we have been using the condition for checking if the file “” exists or not using the “-f” option within the square brackets/ The && option will specify the “then” clause here. The echo statement is used to print the message conferring the condition.

The “||” characters show the “else” part of the statement and the echo statement will display according to the situation. On running this single line code on the Bash console, we have found that the file “” does not exist in the home.

$ sh

Example 05

You can also utilize the same “-if-else” statement to check for the existence of a directory using the “-d” option in its condition instead of “-f”. Let’s say, we have a directory “test” in our home folder and we have been using the same script with the “-d” option to search for it and display the string message according to the condition output. Replace the file path with the directory path as demonstrated in the image below. Save your code and exit the editor.

After running this code, we have found that the directory “test” exists in the home folder.

$ bash


This is all about the use of some Bash script to find out whether the particular file doesn’t exist in the current directory or exists. We have used the “if-else” statement at our end to do so. Also, we have used the direct code in the Bash console utilizing the “!”, “-f”, and “-d” options.

About the author

Omar Farooq

Hello Readers, I am Omar and I have been writing technical articles from last decade. You can check out my writing pieces.