Bash Script to Check if File has Read Permissions

To check if the a file is readable, in other words if the file has read permissions, using bash scripting, use  [ -r FILE ]   expression with bash if statement.


The syntax to check if the file is readable or not is given below.

[ -r FILE ]

where FILE represent path to the file whose permissions we need to check.

The expression returns a true if the file has read permission, and a false if the file does not have read permissions.

Following are the list of examples, that demonstrate us how to check if a file is readable or not.

  • Example 1 – Simple if statement to check if file is readable
  • Example 2 – Check if argument passed to function is a file and is readable

For the examples in this tutorial, we will use two files shown below:

$ ls -lr
total 125016
--w-------  1 root         root                12 Oct  5 09:35 sample.txt
-rwxr--r--  1 root         root                20 Oct  5 15:33 dummy.txt

If you observe the permissions for these files,

  • sample.txt has no read permissions.
  • dummy.txt has read permissions for all users.

Example 1 – Check if File is Readable

In the following example, we shall use -r expression, and check if the file specified is readable. We use the expression in a bash if else statement.

Bash Script File


# Scenario - File exists and is readable
if [ -r /home/tutorialkart/dummy.txt ];
	echo "/home/tutorialkart/dummy.txt is readable"
	echo "/home/tutorialkart/dummy.txt is not readable"

# Scenario - File exists and is not readable
if [ -r /home/tutorialkart/sample.txt ];
	echo "/home/tutorialkart/sample.txt is readable"
	echo "/home/tutorialkart/sample.txt is not readable"

Run this script file in a Terminal, and you shall see the following output, provided you have the files mentioned in your system.


arjun@arjun-VPCEH26EN:~/workspace/bash$ ./bash-script-if-file-is-readable
/home/tutorialkart/dummy.txt is readable
/home/tutorialkart/sample.txt is not readable

Example 2 – Write a Function that Checks If File is Readable

In this example, we shall write a function whose first argument is path to a file. And in the function we shall check if the passed argument (FILE) is readable or not.

Bash Script File


# function to check if passed argument is readable
checkIfReadable() {
	# $1 meaning first argument
	if [ -r "$1" ];
		echo "$1 is readable."
		echo "$1 is not readable."

# Scenario - File exists and is readable
checkIfReadable "/home/tutorialkart/dummy.txt"

# Scenario - File exists and is not readable
checkIfReadable "/home/tutorialkart/sample.txt"

Run the above script and you will get the following output.


arjun@arjun-VPCEH26EN:~/workspace/bash$ ./bash-script-if-file-is-readable-2 
/home/tutorialkart/dummy.txt is readable.
/home/tutorialkart/sample.txt is not readable.


In this Bash Tutorial, we have learnt how to check if the specified file has read permissions or not.