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How can I make the ls command in Max OS X Lion sort files and directories similar to how Ubuntu Linux does (case-insensitive, directories NOT on top, dot files NOT on top)? Ideally I'd like to do this without piping output to another command such as sort.

For example, I want to see:

foo
Foobar
MyStuff/
.stuff/
test.txt

instead of:

.stuff
Foobar
MyStuff/
foo
test.txt

In Linux, ls sort order is controlled by the system's locale, specifically LC_COLLATE. When LC_COLLATE=en_US.UTF-8, ls will sort items like I want. When LC_COLLATE=C, ls will sort similar to OS X.

LC_COLLATE is set to en_US.UTF-8 in OS X, but ls still sorts the old POSIX way. Does anyone know how I can make this behave more like Linux?

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migrated from serverfault.com Dec 18 '11 at 7:09

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If it helps: apple.stackexchange.com/a/22304/8546 observes that HFS Plus is usually configured to be case insensitive but case preserving. –  Graham Perrin Feb 14 '13 at 19:43
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6 Answers 6

I know this has been answered but this work best for me:

ls -f1 -alF -G

It lists all details and sorts them by ignoring case.

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This has been bugging me for awhile now, and I finally got it sorted (heh). After trying a bunch of suggestions that didn't work, here's what did.

If you're willing to install MacPorts (or Homebrew, or Fink), the GNU version of ls does exactly what you want. I use MacPorts, myself, so that's the approach I'll explain:

  1. Download and install MacPorts:

    http://www.macports.org

  2. Install the GNU Coreutils package:

    sudo port install coreutils

  3. You should now have GNU ls: gls. Try it in a directory that contains items that start with both uppercase and lowercase letters:

    gls -U

    (The -U option actually means "unsorted", but on OS X that has the desired effect of making it case insensitive.)

  4. Add this alias in your .bash_profile so the regular ls will work the way you want it to (I like the color output, but you can omit that if you want; you only need the -U):

    alias ls='gls -U --color'

Note that the -U option probably won't work on other platforms. In OS X, it always seems to do the right thing (maybe because HFS+ is effectively case-insensitive -- "case-aware", technically), but if you try it on a Linux box, the results will most likely just not be sorted at all.

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It might not be possible:

Taking a look at the source code for ls, it uses strcoll to sort the filenames, and so should respect LC_COLLATE.

Some postings online suggest that the locales in BSD (and Darwin/OS X) are somewhat broken compared to those in Linux. I wrote a quick sorting program of my own which explicitly set it's locale and tested it using both the en_US.UTF-8 and C locales on my machine (Mac OS 10.6.3) and a university machine (Linux, FC11?). While sorting works as expected on the linux machine, ("a B c" vs "B a c"), the mac always sorts them as "B a c".

Source: http://ask.metafilter.com/130292/CaseInsensitive-LS-on-Mac-OS-X

ORIGINAL ANSWER

This command does not sort dot files, but shows additional directory listings

ls -f1 

I got close to this:

.
..
.stuff
foo
Foobar
MyStuff
test.txt
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Interesting that "disabling sort" with the -f option actually seems to sort it as expected. I assume this is the filesystem/HFS+ sorting entries with a more "natural" collation. –  Gerry Feb 15 '13 at 13:42
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As a workaround you can use a function and an alias:

function lssorted() { /bin/ls "$@" | sort -f ;}
alias ls='lssorted'

This produces a case insensitively sorted output for the standard ls command.

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I have to note: this will fail if for example -l is used. Then ls produces another line "total X" at the beginning, which will also be sorted. –  Arne Dec 22 '11 at 8:51
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If you are mainly concerned with the sort order of the dot files, you can sort by extension: Use the ls command from the GNU Fileutils with the option --sort=extension. (You can install the GNU Fileutils e.g. through macports.)

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Run:

$ type ls

You'll probably find that your ls command is aliased.

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On linux: ls is /bin/ls. On OS X: ls is hashed (/bin/ls). Either way, even if I call /bin/ls directly it still doesn't sort according to LC_COLLATE. –  blt04 Oct 13 '11 at 22:37
2  
That's surprising, I would have wagered that your ls command was aliased to include --group-directories-first. It may still be done somewhere else, just not an alias. –  MikeyB Oct 13 '11 at 23:08
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