26.9.1 File Name Components

The operating system groups files into directories. To specify a file, you must specify the directory and the file’s name within that directory. Therefore, Emacs considers a file name as having two main parts: the directory name part, and the nondirectory part (or file name within the directory). Either part may be empty. Concatenating these two parts reproduces the original file name. 20

On most systems, the directory part is everything up to and including the last slash (backslash is also allowed in input on MS-DOS or MS-Windows); the nondirectory part is the rest.

For some purposes, the nondirectory part is further subdivided into the name proper and the version number. On most systems, only backup files have version numbers in their names.

Function: file-name-directory filename

This function returns the directory part of filename, as a directory name (see Directory Names), or nil if filename does not include a directory part.

On GNU and other POSIX-like systems, a string returned by this function always ends in a slash. On MS-DOS it can also end in a colon.

(file-name-directory "lewis/foo")  ; GNU example
     ⇒ "lewis/"
(file-name-directory "foo")        ; GNU example
     ⇒ nil
Function: file-name-nondirectory filename

This function returns the nondirectory part of filename.

(file-name-nondirectory "lewis/foo")
     ⇒ "foo"
(file-name-nondirectory "foo")
     ⇒ "foo"
(file-name-nondirectory "lewis/")
     ⇒ ""
Function: file-name-sans-versions filename &optional keep-backup-version

This function returns filename with any file version numbers, backup version numbers, or trailing tildes discarded.

If keep-backup-version is non-nil, then true file version numbers understood as such by the file system are discarded from the return value, but backup version numbers are kept.

(file-name-sans-versions "~rms/foo.~1~")
     ⇒ "~rms/foo"
(file-name-sans-versions "~rms/foo~")
     ⇒ "~rms/foo"
(file-name-sans-versions "~rms/foo")
     ⇒ "~rms/foo"
Function: file-name-extension filename &optional period

This function returns filename’s final extension, if any, after applying file-name-sans-versions to remove any version/backup part. The extension, in a file name, is the part that follows the last ‘.’ in the last name component (minus any version/backup part).

This function returns nil for extensionless file names such as foo. It returns "" for null extensions, as in foo.. If the last component of a file name begins with a ‘.’, that ‘.’ doesn’t count as the beginning of an extension. Thus, .emacs’s extension is nil, not ‘.emacs’.

If period is non-nil, then the returned value includes the period that delimits the extension, and if filename has no extension, the value is "".

Function: file-name-with-extension filename extension

This function returns filename with its extension set to extension. A single leading dot in the extension will be stripped if there is one. For example:

(file-name-with-extension "file" "el")
     ⇒ "file.el"
(file-name-with-extension "file" ".el")
     ⇒ "file.el"
(file-name-with-extension "file.c" "el")
     ⇒ "file.el"

Note that this function will error if filename or extension are empty, or if the filename is shaped like a directory (i.e., if directory-name-p returns non-nil).

Function: file-name-sans-extension filename

This function returns filename minus its extension, if any. The version/backup part, if present, is only removed if the file has an extension. For example,

(file-name-sans-extension "foo.lose.c")
     ⇒ "foo.lose"
(file-name-sans-extension "big.hack/foo")
     ⇒ "big.hack/foo"
(file-name-sans-extension "/my/home/.emacs")
     ⇒ "/my/home/.emacs"
(file-name-sans-extension "/my/home/.emacs.el")
     ⇒ "/my/home/.emacs"
(file-name-sans-extension "~/foo.el.~3~")
     ⇒ "~/foo"
(file-name-sans-extension "~/foo.~3~")
     ⇒ "~/foo.~3~"

Note that the ‘.~3~’ in the two last examples is the backup part, not an extension.

Function: file-name-base filename

This function is the composition of file-name-sans-extension and file-name-nondirectory. For example,

(file-name-base "/my/home/foo.c")
    ⇒ "foo"
Function: file-name-split filename

This function splits a file name into its components, and can be thought of as the inverse of string-join with the appropriate directory separator. For example,

(file-name-split "/tmp/foo.txt")
    ⇒ ("" "tmp" "foo.txt")
(string-join (file-name-split "/tmp/foo.txt") "/")
    ⇒ "/tmp/foo.txt"



Emacs follows the GNU convention to use the term file name instead of the term pathname. We use the term path only for search paths, which are lists of directory names.