A Peek at Metacharacters

Metacharacters are special characters that have particular meaning to your shell?that dollar sign or hash mark. The two I want to look at are the asterisk and the question mark. The following shows what they mean to the shell.


Match any number of characters


Match a single character

Extending our talk of listing files, you could list all files containing ackle by using this command:

$ ls *ackle*
hackle hackles      tackles

Similarly, you could find all the words that start with an h like this:

$ ls h*
hackle  hackles

Now, if you want to see all the seven-letter words in your directory, use this command:

$ ls ???????
hackles  tackles

Each question mark represents a single letter position.