File management with CFileMan

This topic describes the overview, how to use cFileman and few important points about file management.


The CFileMan class provides file management functionality, but unlike the corresponding functionality provided by class RFs, CFileMan can operate on files and directories located throughout a directory hierarchy.

CFileMan lets you:

  • copy files

  • move files

  • delete files

  • rename files

  • delete directories and their contained files and sub-directories

  • set and clear file attributes.

The functions provided by the class accept the use of wildcards, and means that some operations may take time to complete. The class, however, provides both synchronous and asynchronous variants.

All of the file manipulation functions except Rename() can operate recursively, and all can operate non-recursively. When operating recursively, these functions will act on all matching files located throughout the source directory's hierarchy. When operating non-recursively, these functions act upon files contained in the single top level source directory only. Recursion is set or unset using the switch parameter to these functions.

Using CFileMan

Typically, a CFileMan operation can result in a number of file/directory manipulation operations, especially if wild cards are used. Some operations, such as copying files, can take a (relatively) long time, especially if such files are large.

Symbian platform provides a file notification observer interface that you can implement to provide notification of events resulting from CFileMan operations. The interface is defined by the MFileManObserver class, and you provide an implementation for the functions:

  • MFileManObserver::NotifyFileManStarted()

  • MFileManObserver::NotifyFileManOperation()

  • MFileManObserver::NotifyFileManEnded().

Symbian platform calls the notification functions before or after each file or directory entry has been processed, or during a file copy or move operation. You can use the notification to provide information about the state of the operation, such as error codes, the names of the target and destination files, and the number of bytes transferred during a copy operation. This information is available to your implementation by calling the public functions in CFileMan and its base class CFileBase:

  • CFileBase::GetLastError()

  • CFileBase::GetMoreInfoAboutError()

  • CFileMan::CurrentAction()

  • CFileMan::GetCurrentTarget()

  • CFileMan::GetCurrentSource()

  • CFileMan::BytesTransferredByCopyStep()

You can also use the notification function to cancel, retry or continue processing a file or directory, or to abort the whole operation, by returning a suitable MFileManObserver::TControl value.

This mechanism provides a way for an application to provide feedback, or to give control over such operations to an end-user through its user interface.

Example code (1)

The following example code shows how you might use this. It is not a complete example, but it gives you an idea of what's possible. The example attempts to copy all files from directory C:\path1 to c:\path2 synchronously.

You would need to elaborate on this to make it part of a real application, and you would probably need the use of active objects, especially if using the asynchronous versions of the CFileMan functions.


    // Connect session
    RFs fsSession;
    // Create file management object
    CFileMan* fileMan = CFileMan::NewL(fsSession);

    // Create file management notification object and set to observe
    TFileCopyProgressMonitor fileCopyProgressMonitor(*fileMan);
    // Do copy (here synchronously)
    // Clean up
    // close file server session
class TFileCopyProgressMonitor : public MFileManObserver
public :
    TFileCopyProgressMonitor(CFileMan& aFileMan);
public : // implement the interface
    TControl NotifyFileManStarted();
    TControl NotifyFileManOperation();
    TControl NotifyFileManEnded();
public :
    CFileMan& iFileMan;
TFileCopyProgressMonitor::TFileCopyProgressMonitor(CFileMan& aFileMan)

// Called when a copy operation started
MFileManObserver::TControl TFileCopyProgressMonitor::NotifyFileManStarted()
    TFileName& aFile
    // Get name of file we are copying.
    // you might want to do something with this, such as display in a UI,
    // or save in a data member of this object for later use.

    // Allow the operation to continue.
    return EContinue;

// Called while a copy operation is in progress
MFileManObserver::TControl TFileCopyProgressMonitor::NotifyFileManOperation()
    TInt bytesTransferred;
    // number of bytes copied so far for the file. 
    bytesbytesTransferred = iFileMan.BytesTransferredByCopyStep();
    // Allow the operation to continue.
    // You would choose to do something different; for example, you could 
    // return ECancel to cancel the operation if you had a reason to do so,
    return EContinue;
// Called when a copy operation is complete
MFileManObserver::TControl TFileCopyProgressMonitor::NotifyFileManEnded()
    TInt lasterror;
    // Allow operations to continue if all is well. 
    lasterror = iFileMan.GetLastError();
    if (lasterror == KErrNone)
        return EContinue;
    // Operation has not completed properly, so you might want to get
    // more information, and proceed accordingly.
    TFileManError filemanerror;
    filemanerror = iFileMan.GetMoreInfoAboutError();
    if (filemanerror==ESrcOpenFailed)
        return EAbort;
    if (filemanerror==ETrgOpenFailed)
        return EAbort;
    ... // you might want to check for other conditions etc.

Example code (1)

This code fragment shows a use of the CFileMan::Attribs() functions.


This sets the hidden and read-only attributes, and clears the archive attribute for all files located in the hierarchy below \TopDir\. The time of their last modification will be unchanged.


  1. If you use CFileMan::Move(), be aware that the behaviour of this operation is sensitive to the presence (or absence) of a trailing backslash ("\") character on the end of the source path:

    • if there is a trailing backslash ("\") character, then the operation moves the content of the last directory level only.

    • if there is no trailing backslash ("\") character, then the operation moves both the last directory level and its content, but note that you also need to specify CFileMan::ERecurse in the switches passed to the function.

    For example, if the directory level "b" contains the files F1, F2 and F3, then:

    CFileMan fm;
    fm->Move(_L("C:\a\b\"), _L("C:\x\y\"), CFileMan::ERecurse);

    results in files F1, F2 and F3 being moved from C:\a\b to C:\x\y, leaving the path C:\a\b unchanged, except that it no longer contains the files F1, F2 and F3.

    If there is no trailing backslash character, for example:

    CFileMan fm;
    fm->Move(_L("C:\a\b"), _L("C:\x\y\"), CFileMan::ERecurse);

    then both the directory level "b" and its contents are moved. This means that there is no longer a directory "b" under C:\\a. Instead there is a new directory structure C:\x\y\b and the files F1, F2 and F3 now exist under C:\x\y\b. Also if "b" contains subdirectories, then these are also moved along with "b".

  2. If you use CFileMan::Copy(), the behaviour of this function does not depend on the presence or absence of a trailing backslash ("\") character on the end of the source path. This pattern of behaviour is in contrast to that of CFileMan::Move(). You can only copy the content of the source path. You cannot request that the last directory level plus its content be copied to the target path, by adding a trailing backslash ("\") character onto the end of the source path. This means that both of the following copy operations produce identical results:

    CFileMan fm;
    fm->Copy(_L("C:\a\b\"), _L("C:\x\y\"), CFileMan::ERecurse);
    fm->Copy(_L("C:\a\b"), _L("C:\x\y\"), CFileMan::ERecurse);
  3. It is possible to pass KNullDesC, the null (or empty) descriptor, to the CFileMan::Delete() functions as the path name. Although you might expect these functions to treat this as a null request, i.e. to delete nothing, they interpret the null descriptor as the string \*.*.