telldir — return current location in directory stream


#include <dirent.h>

long telldir(DIR *dirp);

Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):

   || /* Glibc since 2.19: */ _DEFAULT_SOURCE
   || /* Glibc versions <= 2.19: */ _BSD_SOURCE || _SVID_SOURCE


The telldir() function returns the current location associated with the directory stream dirp.

Return Value

On success, the telldir() function returns the current location in the directory stream. On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.



Invalid directory stream descriptor dirp.


For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see attributes(7).

Interface Attribute Value
telldir() Thread safety MT-Safe

Conforming to

POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008, 4.3BSD.


In glibc up to version 2.1.1, the return type of telldir() was off_t. POSIX.1-2001 specifies long, and this is the type used since glibc 2.1.2.

In early filesystems, the value returned by telldir() was a simple file offset within a directory. Modern filesystems use tree or hash structures, rather than flat tables, to represent directories. On such filesystems, the value returned by telldir() (and used internally by readdir(3)) is a "cookie" that is used by the implementation to derive a position within a directory. Application programs should treat this strictly as an opaque value, making no assumptions about its contents.

See Also

closedir(3), opendir(3), readdir(3), rewinddir(3), scandir(3), seekdir(3)


This page is part of release 5.04 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the latest version of this page, can be found at

Referenced By

closedir(3), dirfd(3), opendir(3), readdir(3), rewinddir(3), scandir(3), seekdir(3), star(1).

2017-09-15 Linux Programmer's Manual