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Combining mkdir -p and touch

28 Feb 2015

As a developer, I often use the unix touch command to create files. One thing that I've always wished touch would do is automatically create intermediate directories. Because it doesn't do that, if I want to create foo/bar/baz.txt in an empty directory I need to use the following commands.

$ mkdir -p foo/bar
$ touch foo/bar/baz.txt

Because I type these commands enough I decided to write a function to stick in my Bash config to combine these commands and invoke it using touch. Here is what I came up with.

# .bashrc
touch () {
  mkdir -p "$(dirname "$1")"
  command touch "$1"

With this I can call touch foo/bar/baz.txt and the directories foo and bar will be created in addition to the file baz.txt.

$ touch foo/bar/baz.txt
$ tree foo
└── bar
    └── baz.txt

1 directory, 1 file

Something new for me was using command utility to call the OS's default touch command when we are overriding it.

I'm looking forward to saving some key strokes with this function. Have some custom Bash functions you use all the time? Tweet at me @calebwoods, would love to hear your time saving tips.