How do I check if a directory exists in a Bash shell script

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What command checks if a directory exists or not, within a Bash shell script?
Jun 7, 2022 in Linux Administration by Rahul
• 3,380 points
542 views

1 answer to this question.

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To check if a directory exists in a shell script, you can use the following:

if [ -d "$DIRECTORY" ]; then
  # Control will enter here if $DIRECTORY exists.
fi

Or to check if a directory doesn't exist:

if [ ! -d "$DIRECTORY" ]; then
  # Control will enter here if $DIRECTORY doesn't exist.
fi

However, as Jon Ericson points out, subsequent commands may not work as intended if you do not take into account that a symbolic link to a directory will also pass this check. E.g. running this:

ln -s "$ACTUAL_DIR" "$SYMLINK"
if [ -d "$SYMLINK" ]; then 
  rmdir "$SYMLINK" 
fi

Will produce the error message:

rmdir: failed to remove `symlink': Not a directory

So symbolic links may have to be treated differently, if subsequent commands expect directories:

if [ -d "$LINK_OR_DIR" ]; then 
  if [ -L "$LINK_OR_DIR" ]; then
    # It is a symlink!
    # Symbolic link specific commands go here.
    rm "$LINK_OR_DIR"
  else
    # It's a directory!
    # Directory command goes here.
    rmdir "$LINK_OR_DIR"
  fi
fi

Take particular note of the double-quotes used to wrap the variables. If the variables contain spaces or other unusual characters it will probably cause the script to fail.

answered Jun 7, 2022 by Korak
• 5,820 points

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