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The Finder Component

The Finder Component

The Finder component finds files and directories based on different criteria (name, file size, modification time, etc.) via an intuitive fluent interface.


$ composer require symfony/finder


If you install this component outside of a Symfony application, you must require the vendor/autoload.php file in your code to enable the class autoloading mechanism provided by Composer. Read this article for more details.


The Symfony\Component\Finder\Finder class finds files and/or directories:

use Symfony\Component\Finder\Finder;

$finder = new Finder();
// find all files in the current directory

// check if there are any search results
if ($finder->hasResults()) {
    // ...

foreach ($finder as $file) {
    $absoluteFilePath = $file->getRealPath();
    $fileNameWithExtension = $file->getRelativePathname();

    // ...

The $file variable is an instance of Symfony\Component\Finder\SplFileInfo which extends PHP’s own SplFileInfo to provide methods to work with relative paths.


The Finder object doesn’t reset its internal state automatically. This means that you need to create a new instance if you do not want to get mixed results.

Searching for Files and Directories

The component provides lots of methods to define the search criteria. They all can be chained because they implement a fluent interface.


The location is the only mandatory criteria. It tells the finder which directory to use for the search:


Search in several locations by chaining calls to in():

// search inside *both* directories
$finder->in([__DIR__, '/elsewhere']);

// same as above

Use * as a wildcard character to search in the directories matching a pattern (each pattern has to resolve to at least one directory path):


Exclude directories from matching with the exclude() method:

// directories passed as argument must be relative to the ones defined with the in() method

It’s also possible to ignore directories that you don’t have permission to read:


As the Finder uses PHP iterators, you can pass any URL with a supported PHP wrapper for URL-style protocols (ftp://, zlib://, etc.):

// always add a trailing slash when looking for in the FTP root dir

// you can also look for in a FTP directory

And it also works with user-defined streams:

use Symfony\Component\Finder\Finder;

// register a 's3://' wrapper with the official AWS SDK
$s3Client = new Aws\S3\S3Client([/* config options */]);

$finder = new Finder();
$finder->name('photos*')->size('< 100K')->date('since 1 hour ago');
foreach ($finder->in('s3://bucket-name') as $file) {
    // ... do something with the file

See also

Read the PHP streams documentation to learn how to create your own streams.

Files or Directories

By default, the Finder returns both files and directories. If you need to find either files or directories only, use the files() and directories() methods:

// look for files only; ignore directories

// look for directories only; ignore files

If you want to follow symbolic links, use the followLinks() method:


Version Control Files

Version Control Systems (or “VCS” for short), such as Git and Mercurial, create some special files to store their metadata. Those files are ignored by default when looking for files and directories, but you can change this with the ignoreVCS() method:


If the search directory contains a .gitignore file, you can reuse those rules to exclude files and directories from the results with the ignoreVCSIgnored() method:

// excludes files/directories matching the .gitignore patterns

File Name

Find files by name with the name() method:


The name() method accepts globs, strings, regexes or an array of globs, strings or regexes:


Multiple filenames can be defined by chaining calls or passing an array:


// same as above
$finder->files()->name(['*.php', '*.twig']);

The notName() method excludes files matching a pattern:


Multiple filenames can be excluded by chaining calls or passing an array:


// same as above
$finder->files()->notName(['*.rb', '*.py']);

File Contents

Find files by content with the contains() method:

$finder->files()->contains('lorem ipsum');

The contains() method accepts strings or regexes:


The notContains() method excludes files containing given pattern:

$finder->files()->notContains('dolor sit amet');


Find files and directories by path with the path() method:

// matches files that contain "data" anywhere in their paths (files or directories)
// for example this will match data/*.xml and data.xml if they exist

Use the forward slash (i.e. /) as the directory separator on all platforms, including Windows. The component makes the necessary conversion internally.

The path() method accepts a string, a regular expression or an array of strings or regulars expressions:


Multiple paths can be defined by chaining calls or passing an array:


// same as above
$finder->path(['data', 'foo/bar']);

Internally, strings are converted into regular expressions by escaping slashes and adding delimiters:

Original Given String Regular Expression Used
dirname /dirname/
a/b/c /a\/b\/c/

The notPath() method excludes files by path:


Multiple paths can be excluded by chaining calls or passing an array:


// same as above
$finder->notPath(['first/dir', 'other/dir']);

File Size

Find files by size with the size() method:

$finder->files()->size('< 1.5K');

Restrict by a size range by chaining calls or passing an array:

$finder->files()->size('>= 1K')->size('<= 2K');

// same as above
$finder->files()->size(['>= 1K', '<= 2K']);

The comparison operator can be any of the following: >, >=, <, <=, ==, !=.

The target value may use magnitudes of kilobytes (k, ki), megabytes (m, mi), or gigabytes (g, gi). Those suffixed with an i use the appropriate 2**n version in accordance with the IEC standard.

File Date

Find files by last modified dates with the date() method:

$finder->date('since yesterday');

Restrict by a date range by chaining calls or passing an array:

$finder->date('>= 2018-01-01')->date('<= 2018-12-31');

// same as above
$finder->date(['>= 2018-01-01', '<= 2018-12-31']);

The comparison operator can be any of the following: >, >=, <, <=, ==. You can also use since or after as an alias for >, and until or before as an alias for <.

The target value can be any date supported by strtotime.

Directory Depth

By default, the Finder recursively traverses directories. Restrict the depth of traversing with depth():

$finder->depth('== 0');
$finder->depth('< 3');

Restrict by a depth range by chaining calls or passing an array:

$finder->depth('> 2')->depth('< 5');

// same as above
$finder->depth(['> 2', '< 5']);

Custom Filtering

To filter results with your own strategy, use filter():

$filter = function (\SplFileInfo $file)
    if (strlen($file) > 10) {
        return false;


The filter() method takes a Closure as an argument. For each matching file, it is called with the file as a Symfony\Component\Finder\SplFileInfo instance. The file is excluded from the result set if the Closure returns false.

Sorting Results

Sort the results by name or by type (directories first, then files):




By default, the sortByName() method uses the strcmp PHP function (e.g. file1.txt, file10.txt, file2.txt). Pass true as its argument to use PHP’s natural sort order algorithm instead (e.g. file1.txt, file2.txt, file10.txt).

Sort the files and directories by the last accessed, changed or modified time:




You can also define your own sorting algorithm with the sort() method:

$finder->sort(function (\SplFileInfo $a, \SplFileInfo $b) {
    return strcmp($a->getRealPath(), $b->getRealPath());

You can reverse any sorting by using the reverseSorting() method:

// results will be sorted "Z to A" instead of the default "A to Z"


Notice that the sort* methods need to get all matching elements to do their jobs. For large iterators, it is slow.

Transforming Results into Arrays

A Finder instance is an IteratorAggregate PHP class. So, in addition to iterating over the Finder results with foreach, you can also convert it to an array with the iterator_to_array function, or get the number of items with iterator_count.

If you call to the in() method more than once to search through multiple locations, pass false as a second parameter to iterator_to_array to avoid issues (a separate iterator is created for each location and, if you don’t pass false to iterator_to_array, keys of result sets are used and some of them might be duplicated and their values overwritten).

Reading Contents of Returned Files

The contents of returned files can be read with getContents():

use Symfony\Component\Finder\Finder;

$finder = new Finder();

foreach ($finder as $file) {
    $contents = $file->getContents();

    // ...

This work, including the code samples, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.