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How to Move a File or Directory in Linux

In Linux, if we want to move a file or directory, we can use the mv command. For example,

$ mv myfile.txt /destination/folder

The mv (move) command is used to move one or more files or directories.

The mv command is also used to rename files or directories and the major advantage of the mv command is that no additional space is consumed on a disk during renaming.

The general syntax of the mv command


Linux mv command Options

The following table contains a brief description of options available with the mv command.

Options Description
--backup[=CONTROL] It is used to make a backup of each existing destination file.
-b It is similar to --backup but does not accept an argument.
-f, --force It does not prompt before overwriting. It moves forcefully.
-n, --no-clobber do not overwrite an existing file
--strip-trailing-slashes It is used to remove any trailing slashes from each SOURCE argument.
-S, --suffix=SUFFIX It overrides the usual backup suffix.
-t, --target-directory It moves all SOURCE arguments into DIRECTORY.
-T, --no-target-directory=DIRECTORY It treats DEST as a normal file.
-u, --update It moves only when the SOURCE file is newer than the destination file.
-v, --verbose It is used to explain what is being done.
-Z, --context It is used to set the SELinux security context of the destination file to default type.
--help It displays help.

Move a file from one directory to another directory

In this example, file is available in shadow directory, and by using mv command file moved to the destination directory.

mv command

Rename a file using mv command

Here the file hello.cnf after using mv command is rename to dubey.cnf file which not existed already. If the destination file already exists, then it will be overwritten and the source file will be deleted automatically without any prompt.

mv command

Take a backup of the existing file

In this example, using -b (backup) option with mv command it is easier to take a backup of an existing file that will be overwritten as a result of the mv command. We can see that after executing this command file is created with tilde character(~).

mv command


In this tutorial, we covered how we can move one or more files or directories using the mv command in Linux/Unix with options available in the mv command with suitable examples.

About the author:
Pradeep has expertise in Linux, Go, Nginx, Apache, CyberSecurity, AppSec and various other technical areas. He has contributed to numerous publications and websites, providing his readers with insightful and informative content.