Bash, or the Bourne Again SHell, is a popular Unix shell used for scripting and automating tasks in Linux, macOS, and other Unix-like systems. One common task in Bash scripting is checking whether a file does not exist. This can be useful for tasks such as creating new files only if they do not already exist, skipping over existing files during a file transfer, or triggering specific actions based on file presence. In this article, we will explore different ways to check if a file does not exist in Bash.
Method 1: Using the ‘
The ‘test’ command in Bash is a simple, built-in utility that evaluates conditional expressions. It can be used to check various conditions, including the existence of a file. To check if a file does not exist, use the following syntax:
In this example, the ‘-e’ flag checks for the existence of the file, while the ‘!’ negates the result. If the file does not exist, the commands within the ‘if’ block will execute.
Method 2: Using square brackets
The ‘test’ command can also be represented using square brackets (‘[‘ and ‘]’), which is more common in Bash scripts. To check if a file does not exist using square brackets, use the following syntax:
This is functionally equivalent to the ‘test’ command example above.
Method 3: Using double square brackets
Bash also supports double square brackets (‘[[‘ and ‘]]’) for conditional expressions. This is a more modern and preferred syntax for many users, as it provides additional features and is more forgiving with spacing. To check if a file does not exist using double square brackets, use the following syntax:
This is functionally equivalent to the previous examples but utilizes the more modern double square bracket syntax.
Method 4: Using the ‘
if‘ command with the ‘
In some cases, you may want to check specifically for the nonexistence of a regular file (as opposed to a directory or other file types). To do this, use the ‘-f’ flag instead of the ‘-e’ flag. This will only return true if the file does not exist or is not a regular file:
In this article, we have discussed four different methods for checking if a file does not exist in Bash. These methods can be used for various tasks, such as creating new files only if they do not already exist or triggering specific actions based on file presence. Depending on your preference and requirements, you can choose any of the methods outlined above to check for the nonexistence of a file in your Bash scripts.