Q: Under Linux, I am trying to use gzip to compress all 1,4000 files in a folder. But I got this error: Argument list too long.


The “Argument list too long” error occurs when the number of arguments passed to a command exceeds the system’s limit. To work around this issue when using gzip to compress multiple files, you can use the find command in combination with exec or a for loop with xargs. Here are two methods to compress all the files in a folder:


Method 1: Using find and exec:

find /path/to/folder -type f -exec gzip “{}” \;

This command will find all the files in the specified folder and execute the gzip command for each file individually.

Method 2: Using find and xargs:

find /path/to/folder -type f -print0 | xargs -0 gzip

This command will find all the files in the specified folder, and then use xargs to pass the files to the gzip command. The -print0 option in find and -0 option in xargs ensure proper handling of file names with spaces or special characters.

Both methods will compress each file individually, creating a separate .gz file for each original file. If you want to create a single compressed archive containing all the files, consider using tar with gzip:

tar -czvf archive_name.tar.gz -C /path/to/folder .

This command will create a compressed archive (archive_name.tar.gz) containing all the files in the specified folder. The -C option changes to the specified folder before adding the files (represented by the .) to the archive.


Method 1 worked perfectly.

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Ge lab

Professor of Bioinformatics


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