Globbing is a pattern-matching technique used in computer programming and file management to search and identify specific file names or types. It involves the use of wildcard characters, such as asterisks (*) and question marks (?), to represent multiple characters or single characters, respectively. This process simplifies finding and manipulating files or data that fit certain criteria without specifying their exact names.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Globbing” is: /ˈɡlɒbɪŋ/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Globbing is a pattern matching technique used in computer programming and file systems to select files or directories based on wildcards.
  2. It commonly uses special characters like asterisks (*) and question marks (?) to represent multiple characters or single characters in a search pattern, respectively.
  3. Glob patterns are powerful and flexible, but they can be complex to implement, and care must be taken with large file systems to ensure efficient pattern matching.


Globbing is an important technology term because it signifies the process of pattern matching based on wildcard characters, allowing users to efficiently and flexibly specify multiple filenames or paths within a file system.

In many command line interface environments, as well as in programming languages and scripts, globbing simplifies tasks by enabling the selection of sets of files or information without the need for manual enumeration.

This not only increases productivity but also minimizes the risk of errors that could arise due to manual input.

Overall, globbing is a powerful tool that enhances the ease of use, flexibility, and effectiveness of various systems and operations in the world of technology.


Globbing is a technique used in programming and computing that allows users to easily manage and navigate through multiple files and directories based on certain patterns. Its primary purpose is to simplify working with a large number of files by eliminating the need for developers to reference each and every file individually. The term “globbing” originates from the word “global,” meaning that it can apply a specific pattern across a range of filenames.

In essence, it serves as a powerful command-line tool that organizes and retrieves data in a more efficient and intuitive way by using wildcard characters to represent patterns in file paths. The globbing technique is particularly useful when working with any file system hierarchies or analyzing datasets comprising various filenames and file types. For instance, it is commonly utilized in popular programming languages like Python, JavaScript, Ruby, and shell scripting languages such as bash.

Some of the wildcard characters most frequently involved in globbing include asterisks (*), which match any character sequence, and question marks (?), which represent a single character. By using these wildcards, users can effectively specify desired patterns that may encompass a multitude of files or directories. This streamlines the process of searching for specific files, filtering out unnecessary data, as well as performing bulk operations such as renaming, deleting, or sorting items based on user-specified criteria.

Overall, globbing plays a crucial role in optimizing data organization and management across various digital platforms.

Examples of Globbing

Globbing is a pattern-matching technique used in computer programming, data processing, and software utilities. Here are three real-world examples of how globbing is used in various contexts.

File Management: In operating systems like Unix and Linux, globbing is widely used in directory listing and file management. For example, you can use glob patterns with command-line tools like ‘ls’ to filter for specific files. By using a pattern like ‘*.txt’, you would list all the text files in the current directory. Similarly, you can use the ‘cp’ (copy) or ‘rm’ (remove) commands with glob patterns to perform bulk operations on specific types of files.

Text Editors and IDEs: Many text editors and integrated development environments (IDEs) support the use of globbing patterns for opening, searching, or filtering files. For example, Visual Studio Code allows its users to define glob patterns for file search and file exclusion. This helps users when working on large projects, as they can focus on files relevant to their current task.

Data processing tools: Data processing tools and scripting languages, such as Python, R, or MATLAB, often utilize globbing to filter and process multiple input files at once. For example, Python’s ‘glob’ module allows users to find all the pathnames matching a specified pattern according to the rules used by the Unix shell. This functionality enables users to easily read in multiple files that have a similar naming convention or file type for subsequent data processing or analysis.

FAQ: Globbing

1. What is globbing?

Globbing is a process in which a pattern of characters, called wildcards, is used to match filenames in a file system. It is a useful functionality that enables users to perform tasks such as searching or listing files based on certain patterns.

2. What are the common patterns used in globbing?

Common patterns used in globbing are the asterisk (*), the question mark (?), and the square brackets ([]). Asterisk (*) is used to match any number of characters, while the question mark (?) matches exactly one character. Square brackets ([]) contain a set of characters that can match exactly one character within the brackets.

3. What is the difference between globbing and regular expressions?

Globbing is a simpler pattern matching technique that is used specifically for filenames, whereas regular expressions are more powerful, complex, and flexible pattern matching tools used for text manipulation. Regular expressions can be used for advanced pattern matching and extraction in text files, while globbing is typically only used to match file or directory names.

4. How is globbing used in shell scripts?

In shell scripts, globbing is commonly used to handle files or directories based on certain patterns. For instance, when you need to perform operations on multiple files with specific extensions or filenames, you can use globbing patterns to match and select the files you want. This can greatly simplify your code and streamline file handling tasks.

5. Are there any limitations to globbing?

While globbing can be handy for pattern matching, it has some limitations. It is not as powerful or flexible as regular expressions and cannot be used for advanced pattern matching tasks. Additionally, globbing can sometimes cause unexpected matches due to its pattern expansion nature, so it is important to be cautious when using glob patterns in your code or commands.

Related Technology Terms


  • Wildcards
  • Pattern Matching
  • Shell Expansion
  • Filesystem Navigation
  • Regular Expressions


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