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DirectoryInfo.GetFiles Method (String, SearchOption)


Returns a file list from the current directory matching the given search pattern and using a value to determine whether to search subdirectories.

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

public FileInfo[] GetFiles(
	string searchPattern,
	SearchOption searchOption


Type: System.String

The search string to match against the names of files. This parameter can contain a combination of valid literal path and wildcard (* and ?) characters (see Remarks), but doesn't support regular expressions. The default pattern is "*", which returns all files.

Type: System.IO.SearchOption

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

Return Value

Type: System.IO.FileInfo[]

An array of type FileInfo.

Exception Condition

searchPattern contains one or more invalid characters defined by the GetInvalidPathChars method.


searchPattern is null.


searchOption is not a valid SearchOption value.


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


The caller does not have the required permission.

The EnumerateFiles and GetFiles methods differ as follows:

  • When you use EnumerateFiles, you can start enumerating the collection of FileInfo objects before the whole collection is returned.

  • When you use GetFiles, you must wait for the whole array of FileInfo objects to be returned before you can access the array.

Therefore, when you are working with many files and directories, EnumerateFiles can be more efficient.

If there are no files in the DirectoryInfo, this method returns an empty array.

The following wildcard specifiers are permitted in searchPattern.

Wildcard character


* (asterisk)

Zero or more characters.

? (question mark)

Exactly zero or one character.

The order of the returned file names is not guaranteed; use the Sort method if a specific sort order is required.

Wildcards are permitted. For example, the searchPattern string "*.txt" searches for all file names having an extension of "txt". The searchPattern string "s*" searches for all file names beginning with the letter "s". If there are no files, or no files that match the searchPattern string in the DirectoryInfo, this method returns an empty array.


When using the asterisk wildcard character in a searchPattern (for example, "*.txt"), the matching behavior varies depending on the length of the specified file extension. A searchPattern with a file extension of exactly three characters returns files with an extension of three or more characters, where the first three characters match the file extension specified in the searchPattern. A searchPattern with a file extension of one, two, or more than three characters returns only files with extensions of exactly that length that match the file extension specified in the searchPattern. When using the question mark wildcard character, this method returns only files that match the specified file extension. For example, given two files in a directory, "file1.txt" and "file1.txtother", a search pattern of "file?.txt" returns only 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.


Because this method checks against file names with both the 8.3 file name format and the long file name format, a search pattern similar to "*1*.txt" may return unexpected file names. For example, using a search pattern of "*1*.txt" will return "longfilename.txt" because the equivalent 8.3 file name format would be "longf~1.txt".

This method pre-populates the values of the following FileInfo properties:

  1. Attributes

  2. CreationTime

  3. CreationTimeUtc

  4. LastAccessTime

  5. LastAccessTimeUtc

  6. LastWriteTime

  7. LastWriteTimeUtc

  8. Length

The following example shows how to get a list of files from a directory by using different search options. The example assumes a directory that has files named log1.txt, log2.txt, test1.txt, test2.txt, test3.txt, and a subdirectory that has a file named SubFile.txt.

using System;
using System.IO;

namespace ConsoleApplication1
    class Program
        static void Main(string[] args)
            DirectoryInfo di = new DirectoryInfo(@"C:\Users\tomfitz\Documents\ExampleDir");
            Console.WriteLine("No search pattern returns:");
            foreach (var fi in di.GetFiles())


            Console.WriteLine("Search pattern *2* returns:");
            foreach (var fi in di.GetFiles("*2*"))


            Console.WriteLine("Search pattern test?.txt returns:");
            foreach (var fi in di.GetFiles("test?.txt"))


            Console.WriteLine("Search pattern AllDirectories returns:");
            foreach (var fi in di.GetFiles("*", SearchOption.AllDirectories))
This code produces output similar to the following:

No search pattern returns:

Search pattern *2* returns:

Search pattern test?.txt returns:

Search pattern AllDirectories returns:
Press any key to continue . . .



for access to the path and for reading from files and directories. Associated enumerations: FileIOPermissionAccess.Read, FileIOPermissionAccess.PathDiscovery

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