How To Search Directories to Find or List Files

Article translations Article translations
Article ID: 185476 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q185476
Expand all | Collapse all

On This Page

SUMMARY

When looking for files, it is often necessary to search through subdirectories. This article demonstrates two methods for recursively searching directories and retrieving file information.

MORE INFORMATION

While Visual Basic provides methods for retrieving information about files and directories, you may also use Windows API functions for these tasks. Using the API is not faster than the built in methods, but the two methods work a little differently. So, this article demonstrates both techniques for retrieving this information. If you test both methods, try using the same starting path and search string. You should get similar results.

Please note that the following examples do not include full error trapping, but Method 2 does catch a special case where the VB GetAttr() function fails on Pagefile.sys, which is the Windows NT virtual memory paging file. Also, depending on the search string, the API version lists and counts directory names by default, where the VB version does not. Please note that the following examples do not include full error trapping, but Method 2 does catch a special case where the VB GetAttr() function fails on Pagefile.sys, which is the Windows NT virtual memory paging file. The only difference in results between these two methods is that the VB code does not return the file create dates.

Method 1: Using the Windows API

  1. Start a new Standard EXE project in Visual Basic. Form1 is created by default.
  2. Add a CommandButton named Command1, four TextBoxes named Text1, Text2, Text3 and Text4 and a ListBox to Form1.
  3. Add a Module from the Projects menu and insert the following:
       Declare Function FindFirstFile Lib "kernel32" Alias _
       "FindFirstFileA" (ByVal lpFileName As String, lpFindFileData _
       As WIN32_FIND_DATA) As Long
    
       Declare Function FindNextFile Lib "kernel32" Alias "FindNextFileA" _
       (ByVal hFindFile As Long, lpFindFileData As WIN32_FIND_DATA) As Long
    
       Declare Function GetFileAttributes Lib "kernel32" Alias _
       "GetFileAttributesA" (ByVal lpFileName As String) As Long
    
       Declare Function FindClose Lib "kernel32" (ByVal hFindFile As Long) _
       As Long
    
       Declare Function FileTimeToLocalFileTime Lib "kernel32" _
       (lpFileTime As FILETIME, lpLocalFileTime As FILETIME) As Long
         
       Declare Function FileTimeToSystemTime Lib "kernel32" _
       (lpFileTime As FILETIME, lpSystemTime As SYSTEMTIME) As Long
    
       Public Const MAX_PATH = 260
       Public Const MAXDWORD = &HFFFF
       Public Const INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE = -1
       Public Const FILE_ATTRIBUTE_ARCHIVE = &H20
       Public Const FILE_ATTRIBUTE_DIRECTORY = &H10
       Public Const FILE_ATTRIBUTE_HIDDEN = &H2
       Public Const FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NORMAL = &H80
       Public Const FILE_ATTRIBUTE_READONLY = &H1
       Public Const FILE_ATTRIBUTE_SYSTEM = &H4
       Public Const FILE_ATTRIBUTE_TEMPORARY = &H100
    
       Type FILETIME
         dwLowDateTime As Long
         dwHighDateTime As Long
       End Type
    
       Type WIN32_FIND_DATA
         dwFileAttributes As Long
         ftCreationTime As FILETIME
         ftLastAccessTime As FILETIME
         ftLastWriteTime As FILETIME
         nFileSizeHigh As Long
         nFileSizeLow As Long
         dwReserved0 As Long
         dwReserved1 As Long
         cFileName As String * MAX_PATH
         cAlternate As String * 14
       End Type
    
       Type SYSTEMTIME
         wYear As Integer
         wMonth As Integer
         wDayOfWeek As Integer
         wDay As Integer
         wHour As Integer
         wMinute As Integer
         wSecond As Integer
         wMilliseconds As Integer
       End Type
    
       Public Function StripNulls(OriginalStr As String) As String
          If (InStr(OriginalStr, Chr(0)) > 0) Then
             OriginalStr = Left(OriginalStr, _
              InStr(OriginalStr, Chr(0)) - 1)
          End If
          StripNulls = OriginalStr
       End Function
    					
  4. Copy the following code into Form1's module:
       Option Explicit
    
       Function FindFilesAPI(path As String, SearchStr As String, _
        FileCount As Integer, DirCount As Integer)
       Dim FileName As String   ' Walking filename variable...
       Dim DirName As String    ' SubDirectory Name
       Dim dirNames() As String ' Buffer for directory name entries
       Dim nDir As Integer   ' Number of directories in this path
       Dim i As Integer      ' For-loop counter...
       Dim hSearch As Long   ' Search Handle
       Dim WFD As WIN32_FIND_DATA
       Dim Cont As Integer
       Dim FT As FILETIME
       Dim ST As SYSTEMTIME
       Dim DateCStr As String, DateMStr As String
         
       If Right(path, 1) <> "\" Then path = path & "\"
       ' Search for subdirectories.
       nDir = 0
       ReDim dirNames(nDir)
       Cont = True
       hSearch = FindFirstFile(path & "*", WFD)
       If hSearch <> INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE Then
          Do While Cont
             DirName = StripNulls(WFD.cFileName)
             ' Ignore the current and encompassing directories.
             If (DirName <> ".") And (DirName <> "..") Then
                ' Check for directory with bitwise comparison.
                If GetFileAttributes(path & DirName) And _
                 FILE_ATTRIBUTE_DIRECTORY Then
                   dirNames(nDir) = DirName
                   DirCount = DirCount + 1
                   nDir = nDir + 1
                   ReDim Preserve dirNames(nDir)
                   ' Uncomment the next line to list directories
                   'List1.AddItem path & FileName
                End If
             End If
             Cont = FindNextFile(hSearch, WFD)  ' Get next subdirectory.
          Loop
          Cont = FindClose(hSearch)
       End If
    
       ' Walk through this directory and sum file sizes.
       hSearch = FindFirstFile(path & SearchStr, WFD)
       Cont = True
       If hSearch <> INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE Then
          While Cont
             FileName = StripNulls(WFD.cFileName)
                If (FileName <> ".") And (FileName <> "..") And _
                  ((GetFileAttributes(path & FileName) And _
                   FILE_ATTRIBUTE_DIRECTORY) <> FILE_ATTRIBUTE_DIRECTORY) Then
                FindFilesAPI = FindFilesAPI + (WFD.nFileSizeHigh * _
                 MAXDWORD) + WFD.nFileSizeLow
                FileCount = FileCount + 1
                ' To list files w/o dates, uncomment the next line
                ' and remove or Comment the lines down to End If
                'List1.AddItem path & FileName
                
               ' Include Creation date...
               FileTimeToLocalFileTime WFD.ftCreationTime, FT
               FileTimeToSystemTime FT, ST
               DateCStr = ST.wMonth & "/" & ST.wDay & "/" & ST.wYear & _
                  " " & ST.wHour & ":" & ST.wMinute & ":" & ST.wSecond
               ' and Last Modified Date
               FileTimeToLocalFileTime WFD.ftLastWriteTime, FT
               FileTimeToSystemTime FT, ST
               DateMStr = ST.wMonth & "/" & ST.wDay & "/" & ST.wYear & _
                  " " & ST.wHour & ":" & ST.wMinute & ":" & ST.wSecond
               List1.AddItem path & FileName & vbTab & _
                  Format(DateCStr, "mm/dd/yyyy hh:nn:ss") _
                  & vbTab & Format(DateMStr, "mm/dd/yyyy hh:nn:ss")
              End If
             Cont = FindNextFile(hSearch, WFD)  ' Get next file
          Wend
          Cont = FindClose(hSearch)
       End If
    
       ' If there are sub-directories...
        If nDir > 0 Then
          ' Recursively walk into them...
          For i = 0 To nDir - 1
            FindFilesAPI = FindFilesAPI + FindFilesAPI(path & dirNames(i) _
             & "\", SearchStr, FileCount, DirCount)
          Next i
       End If
       End Function
    
       Private Sub Command1_Click()
       Dim SearchPath As String, FindStr As String
       Dim FileSize As Long
       Dim NumFiles As Integer, NumDirs As Integer
    
       Screen.MousePointer = vbHourglass
       List1.Clear
       SearchPath = Text1.Text
       FindStr = Text2.Text
       FileSize = FindFilesAPI(SearchPath, FindStr, NumFiles, NumDirs)
       Text3.Text = NumFiles & " Files found in " & NumDirs + 1 & _
        " Directories"
       Text4.Text = "Size of files found under " & SearchPath & " = " & _
       Format(FileSize, "#,###,###,##0") & " Bytes"
       Screen.MousePointer = vbDefault
       End Sub
    					
  5. Run the Project. Enter a starting path into Text1, a search string in Text2 (like *.* or *.txt) and then click Command1.
You will see a list of the files found display in the ListBox with the create date and the last modified date, the actual number of files found displays in Text3, and the total size of the files found under the starting directory appears in Text4.

Method 2: Using Built-In Visual Basic Functions

These instructions build on the sample described prior, but can also be used in a new Project.
  1. Open the Project by using the steps described in Method1
  2. Add another CommandButton named Command2, two more TextBoxes named Text5 and Text6 and another ListBox, List2, to Form1.
  3. Copy the following code into Form1's module:
       Function FindFiles(path As String, SearchStr As String, _
           FileCount As Integer, DirCount As Integer)
          Dim FileName As String   ' Walking filename variable.
          Dim DirName As String    ' SubDirectory Name.
          Dim dirNames() As String ' Buffer for directory name entries.
          Dim nDir As Integer      ' Number of directories in this path.
          Dim i As Integer         ' For-loop counter.
    
          On Error GoTo sysFileERR
          If Right(path, 1) <> "\" Then path = path & "\"
          ' Search for subdirectories.
          nDir = 0
          ReDim dirNames(nDir)
          DirName = Dir(path, vbDirectory Or vbHidden Or vbArchive Or vbReadOnly _
    Or vbSystem)  ' Even if hidden, and so on.
          Do While Len(DirName) > 0
             ' Ignore the current and encompassing directories.
             If (DirName <> ".") And (DirName <> "..") Then
                ' Check for directory with bitwise comparison.
                If GetAttr(path & DirName) And vbDirectory Then
                   dirNames(nDir) = DirName
                   DirCount = DirCount + 1
                   nDir = nDir + 1
                   ReDim Preserve dirNames(nDir)
                   'List2.AddItem path & DirName ' Uncomment to list
                End If                           ' directories.
       sysFileERRCont:
             End If
             DirName = Dir()  ' Get next subdirectory.
          Loop
    
          ' Search through this directory and sum file sizes.
          FileName = Dir(path & SearchStr, vbNormal Or vbHidden Or vbSystem _
          Or vbReadOnly Or vbArchive)
          While Len(FileName) <> 0
             FindFiles = FindFiles + FileLen(path & FileName)
             FileCount = FileCount + 1
             ' Load List box
             List2.AddItem path & FileName & vbTab & _
                FileDateTime(path & FileName)   ' Include Modified Date
             FileName = Dir()  ' Get next file.
          Wend
    
          ' If there are sub-directories..
          If nDir > 0 Then
             ' Recursively walk into them
             For i = 0 To nDir - 1
               FindFiles = FindFiles + FindFiles(path & dirNames(i) & "\", _
                SearchStr, FileCount, DirCount)
             Next i
          End If
    
       AbortFunction:
          Exit Function
       sysFileERR:
          If Right(DirName, 4) = ".sys" Then
            Resume sysFileERRCont ' Known issue with pagefile.sys
          Else
            MsgBox "Error: " & Err.Number & " - " & Err.Description, , _
             "Unexpected Error"
            Resume AbortFunction
          End If
          End Function
    
          Private Sub Command2_Click()
          Dim SearchPath As String, FindStr As String
          Dim FileSize As Long
          Dim NumFiles As Integer, NumDirs As Integer
    
          Screen.MousePointer = vbHourglass
          List2.Clear
          SearchPath = Text1.Text
          FindStr = Text2.Text
          FileSize = FindFiles(SearchPath, FindStr, NumFiles, NumDirs)
          Text5.Text = NumFiles & " Files found in " & NumDirs + 1 & _
           " Directories"
          Text6.Text = "Size of files found under " & SearchPath & " = " & _
          Format(FileSize, "#,###,###,##0") & " Bytes"
          Screen.MousePointer = vbDefault
          End Sub
    
       Private Sub Form_Load()
          Command1.Caption = "Use API code"
          Command2.Caption = "Use VB code"
          ' start with some reasonable defaults
          Text1.Text = "C:\My Documents\"
          Text2.Text = "*.*"
       End Sub
    					
  4. Run the Project. Enter a starting path into Text1, a search string in Text2 (like *.* or Myfile?.txt, and so forth) and then click Command2.
You see a list of the files found appear in List2 with the last modified date, the number of files found in Text5, and the total size of the files found under the starting directory in Text6. By combining these two methods on one form you can verify that both methods return matching information.

Method 3: Use the FileSystem Object with Visual Basic

For information about using the FileSystemObject with Visual Basic to find or list files, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
185601 How To Recursively Search Directories Using FileSystemObject

Properties

Article ID: 185476 - Last Review: August 31, 2009 - Revision: 4.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 Learning Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Learning Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic Enterprise Edition for Windows 6.0
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 4.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 4.0 32-Bit Enterprise Edition
Keywords: 
kbapi kbhowto KB185476

Give Feedback

 

Contact us for more help

Contact us for more help
Connect with Answer Desk for expert help.
Get more support from smallbusiness.support.microsoft.com