To use the following features of WinSCP you need to specify a mask (wildcard) to select files (or other things):


You can use File Mask dialog to help you with assembling the mask.

Basic Syntax

When specifying the mask you can use following patterns:

Pattern Meaning Example
* Matches any number (including zero) of arbitrary characters. *.doc; about*.html
? Matches exactly one arbitrary character. photo????.jpg
[abc] Matches one character from the set. index_[abc].html
[a-z] Matches one character from the range. index_[a-z].html


All other characters are treated literally (except for special characters used in the constructs described below).

To escape character with special meaning in patterns (*?[) surround it by set pattern, e.g. filewithstar[*].

The file masks are case insensitive.

Size and Time Constraints

File mask can be followed by these size and time constraints:

Pattern Meaning Example
>size[KMG] Matches files larger than size.
Note that directories are considered to have a zero size.
Following units can be used: K (Kilobyte), M (Megabyte) or G (Gigabyte).
<size[KMG] Matches files smaller than size. <1G
>yyyy-mm-dd[ hh:mm[:ss]] Matches files modified the last time after the date or time (i.e. “newer than”). >2012-01-01
>2012-02-29 08:47
>time[YDHNS][S] Matches files modified the last time within specified interval (i.e. “newer than”).
Cannot be used for directories.
One of the following units must be used: Y (years), D (days), H (hours), N (minutes) or S (seconds).
Optional S suffix denotes rounding the time before the interval to the start of the interval unit. For example, 2DS refers to the start (midnight) of the day before yesterday. 0HS refers to the start of the current hour. Keywords today and yesterday can be used instead of 0DS and 1DS, respectively.
<yyyy-mm-dd[ hh:mm[:ss]] Matches files modified the last time before the date or time (i.e. “older than”). *.doc<2012-02-29 08:54:21
<time[YDHNS][S] Matches files modified the last time before specified interval (i.e. “older than”). <60D

It is also possible to use operators >= and <=.

To escape an operator character (<>), double it, e.g. filewith<<lessthan.

To combine constraints, append one after another, without any separators (or use spaces). E.g. to select all .doc files created in 2013: *.doc>=2013-01-01<=2013-12-31.

Note that if your constraint contains spaces (particularly constraint with date and time), to use it in scripting, you need to enclose whole mask to double-quotes.

Combining Masks

In most contexts, you can combine several masks using semicolon (;) or comma (,). You cannot use this in source parameters of script commands and .NET assembly methods.1

For example following mask includes all JPG and GIF images: *.jpg; *.gif.

To escape separator character double it, e.g. filewith,,comma.

Include and Exclude Masks

Mask can combine include and exclude mask separated by pipe (|). You cannot use this in source parameters of script commands and .NET assembly methods.1

For example following mask includes all JPG and GIF images, but excludes those starting with 2010 and 2011: *.jpg; *.gif | 2010*; 2011*.


Both include and exclude part can be empty, denoting that everything is included or nothing is excluded, respectively. When include part is empty, masks starts with pipe straight away. When exclude part is empty, you can omit the trailing pipe.

Exclude mask takes precedence over include mask. I.e. when the same file is matched by both the exclude and include mask, it is excluded. On the other hand, using an include mask effectively excludes all non included files and folders.

To escape pipe character double it, e.g. filewith||pipe.

Directory Mask

To use the mask for directories, append a slash to the end, e.g. images/. The mask */ matches any directory.

Note that when using File Mask dialog, the trailing slash for directory masks is appended automatically.

To make operation non-recursive use exclude mask */.2

Directory masks are recursive. E.g. mask images/ matches directories /home/martin/images/ as well as /home/martin/images/avatars/.

During transfer and synchronization, files and directories are processed recursively. When a directory is excluded, subdirectories and files contained in the excluded directory are not even evaluated against file masks. They are excluded along with its container directory.

Path Mask

When a mask selects files and it makes sense to select them based on directory, you can extend the mask with a path mask. You should separate the path mask from the filename mask by a slash. For example mask /home/martinp/*.txt matches all text files within the directory. To match all text files within subtree, use mask /home/martinp/*.txt; /home/martinp/*/*.txt.3

The path mask is matched against full path, i.e. not against path relative path to a root of file transfer or synchronization. E.g. mask public_html/wiki/ does not match /home/martinp/public_html/wiki directory, even if the root of file transfer or synchronization is /home/martinp. Partial path mask that matches an absolute path may look like */public_html/wiki/.

For a partial path mask it makes no difference whether you use back (\) or forward slashes (/); the mask will always work for both local and remote paths. For example, a mask */public_html/*.bak will match backup files both in D:\Documents\public_html\ and /home/martinp/public_html/.

Paths starting with a dot followed by a slash (./ or .\) are matched from the root of the operation (such as file transfer or synchronization). For example, when uploading files and folders from local path D:\Documents\public_html\ to remote path /home/martinp/public_html/, mask .\data\*.txt matches *.txt files in D:\Documents\public_html\data\.

You can also specify full path to a specific file or directory, both local and remote. For example if you want to match only a specific .csv directory, not all, use /home/martinp/data/.csv/ instead of .csv/.

The full path mask matches a local or a remote paths only, depending on the syntax used.4 This matters for synchronization particularly. For exclude masks, you may need to use a separate full path mask for both local and remote path. For include masks, using a full path mask does not make sense with synchronization, as it effectively excludes all files on the other side of the synchronization, breaking it. In general, use partial path masks with the synchronization.



For convenience, mask *.* is an exception matching any file or directory, even if its name does not include any dot. On the contrary, mask *. matches any file or directory without an extension.

Subfolders with All Files Excluded

Excluding all files within a subfolder from transfer or synchronization does not exclude the subfolder itself. As a result an empty subfolder is created in the target. To prevent that, use the Exclude empty directories transfer setting. In scripting or .NET assembly, use the ExcludeEmptyDirectories raw transfer setting.

  1. Note that this restriction does not apply to -filemask switch in scripting and TransferOptions.FileMask in .NET assembly.Back
  2. Full inline file mask syntax, in case there’s no other mask involved, is |*/, where the | denotes a start of an exclude mask.Back
  3. Simpler, but less precise, form would be /home/martinp*/*.txt.Back
  4. Paths starting with drive letter and colon match local paths only. Paths starting with slash match remote path only. Type of slashes does not matter.Back

Last modified: by martin