How to check for File Existance in Firebase Storage

I wanted to check to see if a file exists in storage… but there’s no method that allows me to do this. Let me show you some work-arounds.

I’m going to assume we’re programming for the web but the methods should be similar in other target environments, like Android.

Method 1: getDownloadURL

In the documentation, under the Download Files section, there’s information about a getDownloadURL(). Checkout here specifically in the docs.

Assuming you specify a path in code, you can call getDownloadURL to get you the full, HTTP path.

What you can do is:

  1. Enter the filename you’re after
  2. Check for an error/exception. An error means it doesn’t exist, otherwise it does

The downside to this approach is that, if the file doesn’t exist, there’ll be a 404 error in your console / network tab. Not really a problem… but it does irk me.

Not that getMetadata also works and has the same problem.

Method 2: list() method

You can run a list or listAll command.

Unfortunately listAll returns everything and is only suitable for small directories and list is paginated. You can’t filter with either.

I’d only use this option if you knew there was only a few files. Wait a second…

Method 3: use list() and use folders

Some quick background

I’m storing a list of screenshots.

There can be one screenshot per document in my Cloud Firestore database (i.e. document Te7xDpv5f9l7A2mC9s0F might have a corresponding Te7xDpv5f9l7A2mC9s0F.png).

I wanted to confirm the file exists so, instead of trying to load it, I can display a placeholder image instead.


I was initially storing them all the screenshots in a screenshots folder.

I instead switched to creating a sub-folder for each, like you see in these pictures. Note that I am using the GCP user interface as I prefer it. You can use the UI provided by Firebase.

The result was simpler code, I don’t risk pulling lots of data, paginating, etc. Also made more sense to put them in separate folders as I might, in the future, have n associated to each document.

Console output showing you the details. Click on it to see a bigger version