Linux mv command usage with examples

Filed Under: UNIX/Linux

In this guide, you will learn how to use the Linux/Unix mv command. Linux mv command has 2 distinct functionalities depending on how it’s used.

  1. It can be used to rename a file or a folder
  2. It can be used for moving a file or a folder from one location to another

Using mv command to rename a file or a directory

To rename a file using mv, the 2 files (The original and renamed file) must be in the same location
The syntax for renaming a file or a directory is as follows

# mv file_name new_file_name

For example, I have a file called linux-for-beginners and I want to rename it to unix-for-beginners

# mv linux-for-beginners unix-for-beginners

You can further verify that the file has been renamed using the ls command. The output is shown below

Mv Command Rename A File

As observed, the original file has been renamed. The command and syntax remain the same for directories.

Using mv to move a file or a directory

Having looked at how to rename a file /directory, let’s see how you can move a file from one directory to another.

The syntax for this is as follows

# mv [option] file /path/to/destination/directory

For example , to move the file unix-for-beginners to the /opt directory, run

$ mv unix-for-beginners /opt

mv command moving A File

The syntax remains the same for moving directories. In the example below , the directory tutorials is being moved to /opt directory

Moving A Directory

mv command options

The mv command can be accompanied by a variety of options. Let’s have a look

-i (Interactive)

This option prompts the user for confirmation before moving a file that would overwrite a pre-existing file with the same name. In this case, the user must press y to confirm or overwrite.

Sample output

mv -i option

-n (no-clobber)

The -n option prevents a file from being overwritten. That is , you can rename a file to match another file and still keep the contents of the pre-existing file. In this example, we have 2 files file1.txt and file2.txt. We are going to rename file1.txt to file2.txt using the -n attribute but still retain the contents of file2.txt

Sample output

mv -n  Option

-v (verbose)

the -v option displays the status of the activity taking place when mv is running. The output of the activity is printed on the terminal as shown

Sample output

mv -v option

-u (update)

The -u option updates the destination file only if the source file has newer content or the destination file is missing.

Checking version of mv command

To check the version of mv run the command

$ mv --version

Sample output

mv --version

Getting help with mv command

For more mv command options run the command

$ mv --help

Sample output

mv --help

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