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Wildcard string compare (globbing)

, 15 Feb 2005
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Matches a string against a wildcard string such as "*.*" or "bl?h.*" etc. This is good for file globbing or to match hostmasks.


This is a fast, lightweight, and simple pattern matching function.

if (wildcmp("bl?h.*", "blah.jpg")) {
  //we have a match!
} else {
  //no match =(


int wildcmp(const char *wild, const char *string) {
  // Written by Jack Handy - <A href=""></A>
  const char *cp = NULL, *mp = NULL;

  while ((*string) && (*wild != '*')) {
    if ((*wild != *string) && (*wild != '?')) {
      return 0;

  while (*string) {
    if (*wild == '*') {
      if (!*++wild) {
        return 1;
      mp = wild;
      cp = string+1;
    } else if ((*wild == *string) || (*wild == '?')) {
    } else {
      wild = mp;
      string = cp++;

  while (*wild == '*') {
  return !*wild;


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About the Author

Jack Handy
Web Developer
United States United States
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

GeneralDepends on whether you need to optimize the last few nanoseconds out of it... PinmemberRenniePet29-Mar-10 7:45 
GeneralSorry - revised numbers PinmemberRenniePet29-Mar-10 8:35 
GeneralRe: Depends on whether you need to optimize the last few nanoseconds out of it... PinmemberErwin de GRoot29-Mar-10 8:37 
GeneralYet another version - 25% faster, I think [modified] PinmemberRenniePet1-Apr-10 8:24 
GeneralRe: Yet another version - 25% faster, I think Pinmemberaleks1k21-Sep-11 2:47 
QuestionI used this function but I how I can catch variables from the * ??? Pinmembermoh.hijjawi20-Oct-09 1:55 
AnswerRe: I used this function but I how I can catch variables from the * ??? PinmemberRenniePet1-Apr-10 11:27 
Questionany updates ? Pinmemberalhambra-eidos2-Jul-09 5:12 
GeneralImproved matching with end-of-text PinmemberAnders Heie11-May-09 15:20 
Great code, but when trying this I realized that the following pattern is a match:
Search: ????????
Text to search: ABC
The problem is that the pattern can be LONGER than the text searched, in which case it should return a not found, but instead returns found.
Also, this example succeeds:
Search: y*n
Text to search: yessir
But of course should fail, since I'm looking for a text that ends with n
So I re-wrote your program to this, to correctly handle this situation.
bool StrWildCmp(char* wildstring, char *matchstring){
	char stopstring[1];
	*stopstring = 0;
	while(*matchstring) {
		if (*wildstring == '*') {
		  if (!*++wildstring) {
			return true;
		  } else {
			  *stopstring = *wildstring;
		if(*stopstring) {
			if(*stopstring == *matchstring ) {
				*stopstring = 0;
			} else {
		} else if((*wildstring == *matchstring) || (*wildstring == '?')) {
		} else {
			return false;
		if(!*matchstring && *wildstring && *wildstring != '*') {
			// matchstring too short
			return false;
  return true;
Thanks again for the inspiration. Cool | :cool:
GeneralRe: Improved matching with end-of-text: some cases don't work properly! Pinmemberroadrunner31412-Aug-09 3:35 
GeneralRe: Improved matching with end-of-text: some cases don't work properly! Pinmembersdiazdiaz20-Jun-13 1:50 
QuestionPathMatchSpec instead? Pinmemberkintz25-Mar-09 8:55 
AnswerRe: PathMatchSpec instead? PinmemberMandatoryDefault31-Aug-09 10:39 
Questionwchar_t version? Pinmemberrmorales8729-Nov-08 20:16 
AnswerRe: wchar_t version? Pinmemberrazvar31-Mar-11 21:49 
Generalwildcmp in XBLite PinmemberCodeGibbon27-Nov-08 13:56 
GeneralWildcard string compare in C# Pinmemberhaiquang10-Nov-08 22:15 
GeneralRe: Wildcard string compare in C# Pinmemberhaiquang3-Aug-09 22:22 
GeneralC# Direct Port Pinmemberhempels23-Sep-08 15:10 
General...and yet another C# port [modified] PinmemberDVF27-Aug-10 16:59 
GeneralRe: ...and yet another C# port PinmemberVUnreal21-Sep-10 11:22 
General[Message Removed] Pinmemberstonber18-Sep-08 14:22 
GeneralUsing in Artistic Style Pinmemberjimp023-Apr-08 4:43 
GeneralGeez... Pinmemberlarryfr5-Mar-08 9:39 
QuestionConvert to a replace? Pinmemberwilliaps20-Mar-07 8:31 

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