I want to backup my savegames:

+ /Library/Containers/com.doublefine.dfaosx/***
+ /Library/Containers/com.doublefine.dottosx/***

I initially wanted to do this as part of a larger rsync backup. However, because of some macOS sandbox insanity, the folders include dozens of symlinks that I don't want to backup up, and excluding these has proven difficult with rsync (see related question).

How can I backup only the valuable savegame files and exclude the symlinks, without explicitly specifying a lot of subfolders. I want to specify "Back up all real files under this root folder, excluding symlinks and subfolders that don't ultimately contain a real file".

I tried zip also, but it doesn't even seem to have an option to exclude symlinks. Can tar do it? It would be best if rsync can do it, but if not, any standard Unix tool would be acceptable.

The files I want to backup are as below. Of course I could specify them explicitly, but I want to learn a way to backup real files and ignore symbolic links without getting specific about it.

Library/Containers/com.doublefine.dfaosx/Data/Library/Saved Application State/com.doublefine.dfaosx.savedState/*

The files in saves are called auto.sav, auto.cav, slot_1.sav, slot_2.sav and then some.

Example of symbolic links are (there are about 60 of these, most of which are irrelevant for the game, they are just created by default as a means of reaching some Library files):

  • Do these "game files" have the same name?
    – fd0
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 13:07
  • 1
    Are the targets of the symlinks within the folders you want to backup or outside? In both cases how would you restore from backup if you don't include the symlinks? Also, do you know the names of the files you actually want to backup (and do these names stay stable)?
    – nohillside
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 13:08
  • @nohillside: The symlinks are not used by the game. The names are numbered, but stay stable.
    – forthrin
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 15:47
  • Are you sure that Library/Containers/com.doublefine.dfaosx/Data/Library/Saved Application State/com.doublefine.dfaosx.savedState/ doesn't contain a symlink in-between?
    – nohillside
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 17:32
  • @nohillside: Real directories all the way.
    – forthrin
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


You can pass a list of file names to backup to tar by running find first:

cd ~/Library/Containers/
tar -T <(find com.doublefine.dfaosx -type f -print) -cvzf ~/dfaosx.tar.gz
tar -T <(find com.doublefine.dottosx -type f -print) -cvzf ~/dfaosx.tar.gz

If you prefer rsync it supports a --files-from option which more or less does the same as -T for tar.

  • Not bad! An acceptable alternative if I can't make it work with the main rsync backup.
    – forthrin
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 20:17

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