Harness the Combinatoric Power of Command-Line Tools and Utilities


Create Multiple Files With Brace Expansion

commands files

Published May 17, 2024

You know you can create files using the touch command, but if you have to create multiple files you have to specify each filename.

touch chapter1.md chapter2.md chapter3.md chapter4.md

Brace expansion is a mechanism for generating arbitrary strings. Using brace expansion and a range, you can create these files with the following command:

touch chapter{1..4}.md

In this example, brace expansion works by expanding the sequence inside the braces and combining it with the surrounding text.

  1. The sequence {1..4} generates the list 1, 2, 3, 4.
  2. Each item in the generated list is combined with the surrounding text chapter and .md.

You can use brace expansion when creating directories as well. For example, to create a website directory with images, stylesheets, and scripts folders, you’d use the following command:

mkdir -v -p website/{images,stylesheets,scripts}

You’ll see the following output:

mkdir: created directory 'website'
mkdir: created directory 'website/images'
mkdir: created directory 'website/stylesheets'
mkdir: created directory 'website/scripts'

Using brace expansion can save some typing, especially if you have a large number of files and folders.