Directory.GetFiles Method (String, String, SearchOption)

Note: This method is new in the .NET Framework version 2.0.

Returns the names of files in the specified directory that match the specified search pattern, using a value to determine whether to search subdirectories.

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

public static string[] GetFiles (
	string path,
	string searchPattern,
	SearchOption searchOption
public static String[] GetFiles (
	String path, 
	String searchPattern, 
	SearchOption searchOption
public static function GetFiles (
	path : String, 
	searchPattern : String, 
	searchOption : SearchOption
) : String[]



The directory to search.


The search string to match against the names of files in path. The parameter cannot end in two periods ("..") or contain two periods ("..") followed by DirectorySeparatorChar or AltDirectorySeparatorChar, nor can it contain any of the characters in InvalidPathChars.


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

Return Value

A String array containing the names of files in the specified directory that match the specified search pattern. File names include the full path.

Exception typeCondition


path is a file name.


The caller does not have the required permission.


path is a zero-length string, contains only white space, or contains one or more invalid characters as defined by InvalidPathChars.


searchPattern does not contain a valid pattern.


path or searchpattern is a null reference (Nothing in Visual Basic).


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.


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

The file names include the full path.

The following wildcard specifiers are permitted in the searchPattern parameter.

Wildcard character



Zero or more characters.


Exactly one character.

Characters other than the wildcard specifiers represent themselves. For example, the searchPattern string "*t" searches for all names in the path parameter ending with the letter "t". The searchPattern string "s*" searches for all names in path beginning with the letter "s".

The matching behavior of searchPattern when the extension is exactly three characters long is different from when the extension is more than three characters long. A searchPattern of exactly three characters returns files having an extension of three or more characters. A searchPattern of one, two, or more than three characters returns only files having extensions of exactly that length.


A search pattern using the asterisk matches all extensions with a wildcard on the end, while a search pattern using the question mark does not use a wildcard. For example, given two files in a directory (file1.txt and file1.txtother), a search pattern of "file?.txt" returns just the first file, while a search pattern of "file*.txt" returns both files.

The following list shows the behavior of different lengths for the searchPattern parameter:

  • "*.abc*" returns files having an extension,.abcd,.abcde,.abcdef, and so on.

  • "*.abcd" returns only files having an extension of.abcd.

  • "*.abcde" returns only files having an extension of.abcde.

  • "*.abcdef" returns only files having an extension of.abcdef.

The path parameter is permitted to specify relative or absolute path information. Relative path information is interpreted as relative to the current working directory. To obtain the current working directory, see GetCurrentDirectory.

The path parameter is not case-sensitive.

The following table lists examples of other typical or related I/O tasks.

To do this...

See the example in this topic...

Create a text file.

How to: Write Text to a File

Write to a text file.

How to: Write Text to a File

Read from a text file.

How to: Read Text from a File

Rename or move a directory.



Rename or move a file.



Delete a directory.



Create a directory.



Create a subdirectory.


See the files in a directory.


See the subdirectories of a directory.



See all the files in all subdirectories of a directory.


Find the size of a directory.


Determine if a file exists.


Determine if a directory exists.


Get file attributes.


Set file attributes.


Windows 98, Windows 2000 SP4, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP Starter Edition

The .NET Framework does not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see System Requirements.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 2.0