Solved: read all files from folder

Reading files from a folder is a common task in many programming languages, and Matlab is no exception. It becomes particularly useful when you have to process a large number of files and don’t want to open and close each one manually. Automating this task can save you a lot of time and make your code more efficient. This article will present a comprehensive guide on how to read all files from a folder in Matlab.

Matlab originally developed by MathWorks, offers a high-level programming language and interactive environment for numerical computation, visualization, and programming. From machine learning, signal processing, image processing, computer vision, communications, computational finance, control design, robotics, and much more, Matlab is versatile in various academic and research areas.


To perform the task of reading all files from a folder in Matlab, you would need the core Matlab software installed. The version does not matter much as the file reading functions have stayed consistent across different versions of Matlab. However, I’d suggest using a recent version for optimal performance and functionality.

Solution in Matlab

Start by specifying the path of the directory containing the files. Then, use the dir function which returns a struct array containing information about all the files and subdirectories within the specified directory.

d = dir('/path_to_your_folder');

This struct array contains a variety of information about the files, including their names, which can be accessed like so:

filenames = {};

Next step is to iterate over each file in the directory. For that, a for loop is used. Inside the loop, we read each file using the appropriate function, depending on the file’s extension.

for i = 1:length(filenames)
    file = fullfile('/path_to_your_folder', filenames{i});
    data = load(file);
    % Process your data here

Understanding the code

Firstly, the dir() function is used to get the list of all files and folders in the specified directory. The dir function’s output is stored in a structure array which is a data type that groups related data using data containers called fields.

Each file or subfolder is represented by one structure within the array. The structure contains several fields including the name of the file, date modified, bytes, isdir (which indicates if the name is a directory), and the folder’s datenum.

The fullfile() function concatenates folder name and filename into a full file specification. The load function is used to load data from the file into the workspace.

NOTE: This is just a basic solution, you could adapt it to better suit your needs. You might want to check for specific file types, handle errors, or process data in a specific way.

Other Matlab File Functions

Matlab has several other built-in functions related to file handling, like fopen for opening a file, fclose for closing an open file, fread for reading binary data from a file, and fwrite for writing binary data to a file. Understanding these functions can be greatly beneficial in working with files in Matlab.

In conclusion, using Matlab for reading and processing multiple files in a folder not only saves time but also increases efficiency. Its file handling functions are powerful and flexible, allowing you to easily adapt them to suit any specific needs you might have.

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