GetDirectories Method (String, String, SearchOption)

Directory.GetDirectories Method (String, String, SearchOption)


Returns the names of the subdirectories (including their paths) that match the specified search pattern in the specified directory, and optionally searches subdirectories.

Namespace:   System.IO
Assembly:  mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

public static string[] GetDirectories(
	string path,
	string searchPattern,
	SearchOption searchOption


Type: System.String

The relative or absolute path to the directory to search. This string is not case-sensitive.

Type: System.String

The search string to match against the names of subdirectories in path. This parameter can contain a combination of valid literal and wildcard characters (see Remarks), but doesn't support regular expressions.

Type: System.IO.SearchOption

One of the enumeration values that specifies whether the search operation should include all subdirectories or only the current directory.

Return Value

Type: System.String[]

An array of the full names (including paths) of the subdirectories that match the specified criteria, or an empty array if no directories are found.

Exception Condition

path is a zero-length string, contains only white space, or contains one or more invalid characters. You can query for invalid characters by using the GetInvalidPathChars method.


searchPattern does not contain a valid pattern.


path or searchPattern is null.


searchOption is not a valid SearchOption value.


The caller does not have the required permission.


The specified path, file name, or both exceed the system-defined maximum length. For example, on Windows-based platforms, paths must be less than 248 characters and file names must be less than 260 characters.


path is a file name.


The specified path is invalid (for example, it is on an unmapped drive).

The path parameter can specify relative or absolute path information, and is not case-sensitive. Relative path information is interpreted as relative to the current working directory. To obtain the current working directory, see GetCurrentDirectory.

searchPattern can be a combination of literal and wildcard characters, but doesn't support regular expressions. The following wildcard specifiers are permitted in searchPattern.

Wildcard specifier


* (asterisk)

Zero or more characters in that position.

? (question mark)

Zero or one character in that position.

Characters other than the wildcard are literal characters. For example, the searchPattern string "*t" searches for all names in path ending with the letter "t". The searchPattern string "s*" searches for all names in path beginning with the letter "s".

searchPattern cannot end in two periods ("..") or contain two periods ("..") followed by DirectorySeparatorChar or AltDirectorySeparatorChar, nor can it contain any invalid characters. You can query for invalid characters by using the GetInvalidPathChars method.

The EnumerateDirectories and GetDirectories methods differ as follows: When you use EnumerateDirectories, you can start enumerating the collection of names before the whole collection is returned; when you use GetDirectories, you must wait for the whole array of names to be returned before you can access the array. Therefore, when you are working with many files and directories, EnumerateDirectories can be more efficient.

For a list of common I/O tasks, see Common I/O Tasks.

The following example counts the number of directories that begin with the specified letter in a path. Only the top-level directory is searched.

using System;
using System.IO;

class Test 
    public static void Main() 
            string[] dirs = Directory.GetDirectories(@"c:\", "p*", SearchOption.TopDirectoryOnly);
            Console.WriteLine("The number of directories starting with p is {0}.", dirs.Length);
            foreach (string dir in dirs) 
        catch (Exception e) 
            Console.WriteLine("The process failed: {0}", e.ToString());


for access to path information for the current directory. Associated enumeration: FileIOPermissionAccess.PathDiscovery.

Universal Windows Platform
Available since 10
.NET Framework
Available since 2.0
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