In this tutorial, we’ll cover how to move, copy, and rename directories within Linux, using the terminal and some easy commands.
Use the table of contents below to find a specific section or read on to learn more!
How to Move a Directory in Linux
If you’re trying to move a directory in Linux from one location to another, just follow these 4 steps:
- If you want to move a directory or file in Linux, you can use the move command, followed by the Source (the directory you’re moving) and Destination (the directory you’re moving it to):
mv [Source] [Destination]
- So, if you wanted to move /directory1 into a second directory name /directory2, you would use the following command:
mv /directory1 /directory2
*Note: If no “/directory2” exists, /directory1 will be renamed as “/directory2”, essentially “moving” it into a newly created directory.
- This can also be done for multiple files and directories at once. Let’s say you have 3 files (file1, file2, and file3), and you’d like to move all them into /directory1. Simply list out all your sources before your destination, and Linux will automatically move all these files at once.
mv file1.txt file2.txt file3.txt /home/directory1
- Keep in mind that in order to move files and directories, a user must have permissions allowing them to modify both the source and destination directories. Otherwise, an error will occur and permission will be denied.
How to Copy a Directory in Linux
If you’re trying to make a copy of an existing directory, just follow these 4 steps:
- To copy a directory or file in linux, just use the copy command followed by the Source (the directory you’re copying), and the Destination (the place you’re copying it to):
cp -R [Source] [Destination]
- So, if you wanted to make a copy of /directory1 and place it inside of /directory2, you would use the command:
cp -R /directory1 /directory2
*Note: If no “/directory2” exists, a new directory will be created, with that name, and containing the contents of /directory1.
- Like moving files, it is possible to copy multiple files into a single directory by listing out multiple filenames for sources, followed by a single destination. For example:
cp -R file1.txt file2.txt file3.txt /directory1
Which, as shown above, copies file1, file2, and file3, placing their copies in /directory1.
- Additionally, if you wanted to copy the entire contents of /directory1 into /directory2 (duplicating the files inside the folder but not the folder itself), you can do so by adding ” /* ” after the source directory. For example:
cp – R /directory1/* /directory2
As shown above, this creates copies of all the files located in /directory1, placing duplicates of its content into /directory2, but not duplicating the actual directory itself.
How to Rename a Directory in Linux
If you need to rename an existing directory in Linux to something new, just follow these 2 steps:
- Interestingly, due to the way Linux’s file structures work, moving a file and renaming a file are actually the same action. This is because when you’re “moving” a file in Linux, you’re really “renaming” its file path: giving it a new name but also a new location in your system’s structure.
mv [Source] [NewName]
- So, to rename /directory1 to /directory_new, you would use the command:
mv /directory1 /directory_new
*Note: If “/directory_new” already exists, then this command will move the contents of /directory1 to /directory_new. However, if “/directory_new” does NOT already exist, this command will rename /directory1 to /directory_new.
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