Defined in header <filesystem>
std::filesystem::path read_symlink(const std::filesystem::path& p);

std::filesystem::path read_symlink(const std::filesystem::path& p,

                                   std::error_code& ec);
(since C++17)

If the path p refers to a symbolic link, returns a new path object which refers to the target of that symbolic link.

It is an error if p does not refer to a symbolic link.

The non-throwing overload returns an empty path on errors.


p - path to a symlink
ec - out-parameter for error reporting in the non-throwing overload

Return value

The target of the symlink (which may not necessarily exist)


The overload that does not take a std::error_code& parameter throws filesystem_error on underlying OS API errors, constructed with p as the first path argument and the OS error code as the error code argument. The overload taking a std::error_code& parameter sets it to the OS API error code if an OS API call fails, and executes ec.clear() if no errors occur. Any overload not marked noexcept may throw std::bad_alloc if memory allocation fails.


#include <iostream>
#include <filesystem>
namespace fs = std::filesystem;
int main()
    // on a typical Linux system, /lib/ is a symlink
    fs::path p = "/lib/";
    if(fs::exists(p) && fs::is_symlink(p))
        std::cout << p << " -> " << fs::read_symlink(p) << '\n';
        std::cout << p << " does not exist or is not a symlink\n";

Possible output:

"/lib/" -> ""

See also

checks whether the argument refers to a symbolic link
creates a symbolic link
copies a symbolic link
determines file attributes
determines file attributes, checking the symlink target