How to list files in a directory in Go (Golang)

In Go (Golang) you often have many options to achieve the same result when it comes to use the standard library. In this article we are going to breakdown a list of possible options that you can use to list files in a directory using Go. We are going to see also how to list files recursively when having a nested directory structure just by using the Go standard library. By the end of this article you will be able to use all of the following options to list files in a directory


Option 1: ioutil.ReadDir

ioutil.ReadDir comes from the ioutil package in the Go standard library, you can check the documentation from the official Go Doc website

func ReadDir(dirname string) ([]os.FileInfo, error)

ReadDir reads the directory named by dirname and returns a list of directory entries sorted by filename.

Let’s see how we can practically use ioutil.ReadDir in this example

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "io/ioutil"
    "log"
)

func main() {
    files, err := ioutil.ReadDir("/tmp/")
    if err != nil {
        log.Fatal(err)
    }

    for _, file := range files {
        fmt.Println(file.Name(), file.IsDir())
    }
}

And that’s my output

com.apple.launchd.Uzc3xBHlg5 true
fseventsd-uuid false
powerlog true
tmux-501 true

If you want to learn more on how to use the output from this function you can check out the structure of os.FileInfo which allows you to see properties of the file or directory returned.

Option 2: filepath.Walk

filepath.Walk is another option you can use to list files in a directory structure, from the filepath Go package, it also allows us to recursively discover directories and files. The official documentation reads as follows

func Walk(root string, walkFn WalkFunc) error

Walk walks the file tree rooted at root, calling walkFn for each file or directory in the tree, including root. All errors that arise visiting files and directories are filtered by walkFn. The files are walked in lexical order, which makes the output deterministic but means that for very large directories Walk can be inefficient. Walk does not follow symbolic links.

WalkFunc is the type of the function called for each file or directory visited by Walk. Here’s the function signature

type WalkFunc func(path string, info os.FileInfo, err error) error

Here’s an example on how to use filepath.Walk to discover files and directories

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "os"
    "path/filepath"
)

func main() {
    err := filepath.Walk("/tmp/", func(path string, info os.FileInfo, err error) error {
        if err != nil {
            fmt.Println(err)
            return err
        }
        fmt.Printf("dir: %v: name: %s\n", info.IsDir(), path)
        return nil
    })
    if err != nil {
        fmt.Println(err)
    }
}

That’s the expected output from the code snippet above

dir: true: name: /tmp/
dir: false: name: /tmp/00000000002b8a24
dir: false: name: /tmp/00000000002c3e48
dir: false: name: /tmp/00000000002d25ea
dir: true: name: /tmp/com.apple.launchd.Uzc3xBHlg5
dir: false: name: /tmp/com.apple.launchd.Uzc3xBHlg5/Listeners
dir: false: name: /tmp/fseventsd-uuid
dir: true: name: /tmp/powerlog
dir: true: name: /tmp/tmux-501
dir: false: name: /tmp/tmux-501/default

Option 3: os.File.Readdir

The last option is using just the file pointer coming from the os.File when reading a file from the file system. The package is the os package in the Go standard library.

func (f *File) Readdir(n int) ([]FileInfo, error)

Readdir reads the contents of the directory associated with file and returns a slice of up to n FileInfo values, as would be returned by Lstat, in directory order. Subsequent calls on the same file will yield further FileInfos.
If n > 0, Readdir returns at most n FileInfo structures. In this case, if Readdir returns an empty slice, it will return a non-nil error explaining why. At the end of a directory, the error is io.EOF.
If n <= 0, Readdir returns all the FileInfo from the directory in a single slice

This below is an example on how to use os.File.Readdir to list files from a given directory

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "os"
)

func main() {
    f, err := os.Open("/tmp")
    if err != nil {
        fmt.Println(err)
        return
    }
    files, err := f.Readdir(0)
    if err != nil {
        fmt.Println(err)
        return
    }

    for _, v := range files {
        fmt.Println(v.Name(), v.IsDir())
    }
}

Here’s the expected output from the above code snippet

00000000002b8a24 false
fseventsd-uuid false
powerlog true
com.apple.launchd.Uzc3xBHlg5 true
00000000002c3e48 false
00000000002d25ea false
tmux-501 true


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