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mv command in linux with examples

The “mv” command in Linux is used to move or rename files and directories. This command is a basic  command in Linux, and is used to organize and manage the files and directories on a system. The basic syntax of the command is “mv [source] [destination]”, where the source is the file or directory to be moved, and the destination is the location or new name for the file or directory.

Without the ability to move or rename files and directories, users would have to manually copy and paste files to new locations, and then delete the original copies. This can be time-consuming and error-prone, especially when dealing with large numbers of files or directories.

Additionally, “mv” command is often used in combination with other commands such as “cp” and “rm” to automate file management tasks. For example, it can be used to move files that match a certain pattern to a different directory, or to rename multiple files at once.

In this tutorial, we will learn how to use the Linux ‘mv’ command to move files and directories.

Prerequisites

  • A Linux OS.
  • Basic knowledge of Linux commands.
  • Several files and directories that you can use to try example commands.

Basic Syntax and usage of the “mv” command

The basic syntax for using the “mv” command is:

mv [source] [destination]
  • source: This is the file or directory that you want to move or rename.
  • destination: This is the location or new name where you want to move or rename the file or directory.

Examples of the “mv” command

Here are some examples of how the command can be used:

A. How to move a file to a different directory

mv file.txt documents/

This command moves the file named “file.txt” from the current directory to a directory named “documents”.

B. How to rename a file

mv oldfile.txt newfile.txt

This command renames the file named “oldfile.txt” to “newfile.txt” in the current directory.

C. How to move multiple files at once

mv *.txt textfiles/

This command moves all files with the extension “.txt” to a directory named “textfiles”.

D. How to move a directory

mv oldfolder newfolder

This command renames the directory named “oldfolder” to “newfolder”.

E. How to move files with specific extensions

mv -v *.jpg pictures/

This command moves all files with the extension “.jpg” to a directory named “pictures” and the -v option is used to display the progress of the operation.

It is important to note that these are just examples, and the actual file and directory names will vary depending on the specific files and directories on your system. Also, you can combine the options and use them according to your needs.

Advance examples of the “mv” command

Here are some examples of advanced usage of the “mv” command:

A. How to move files with wildcard characters

mv file* documents/

This command moves all files that starts with “file” to a directory named “documents”.

B. How to move hidden files

mv .hiddenfile .

This command moves the hidden file named “.hiddenfile” to the current directory.

C. How to move files while preserving permissions and ownership

mv -p file.txt documents/

This command moves the file named “file.txt” to a directory named “documents” and preserve the file’s permissions and ownership.

D. How to move files and rename them at the same time

mv file.txt documents/renamed_file.txt

This command moves the file named “file.txt” to the directory “documents” and rename it to “renamed_file.txt”

E. How to move files and rename them at the same time with -n option

mv -n file.txt documents/renamed_file.txt

This command also move the file named “file.txt” to the directory “documents” and rename it to “renamed_file.txt” but it will not overwrite any existing file with the same name.

These examples illustrate some of the more advanced ways that the “mv” command can be used to manage files and directories in Linux. You can use these examples as a starting point and then modify them as needed to suit your specific needs.

Mv Command Options

Here are some common options that are used with the “mv” command:

  • -i (interactive) : Prompts for confirmation before overwriting an existing file.
  • -f (force) : Overwrites files without prompting for confirmation.
  • -v (verbose) : Displays the progress of the operation.
  • -u (update) : Only moves the file if the destination file does not exist or is older than the source file.
  • -n (no-clobber) : Prevents overwriting of an existing file.
  • -b (backup) : Creates a backup of the file before moving or renaming.
  • --backup[=CONTROL]: This option allows you to control the suffix that is added to the backup file.

It’s important to note that some of these options may not be available on all systems and the availability of these options may vary depending on the version of the mv command you are using.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the “mv” command in Linux is a powerful and versatile command that is essential for managing files and directories. It allows users to move and rename files and directories, making it easy to organize and structure their files and directories in a way that makes them easy to find and access.

Summary of key points:

  • The “mv” command is used to move or rename files and directories in Linux
  • The basic syntax of the command is “mv [source] [destination]”
  • The command can be used with a variety of options to modify its behavior
  • The command is a fundamental command in Linux for managing files and directories
  • It is important to be careful when using the command as it can overwrite files without warning.

Resources for learning :

  • The manual page for the “mv” command, accessible by running “man mv” in the terminal
  • The official documentation for the command, available on the Linux documentation project website.
  • The Linux Command Line book by William E. Shotts Jr.
  • Advanced Linux Command Line by Mark Sobell

By understanding and mastering the usage of the “mv” command, you can effectively manage your files and directories in Linux.

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