How To Search Directories to Find or List Files

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: Aug 31, 2009 - Revision: 1

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