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Thursday, 23 January 2020

How to Rename a File or Directory in Linux or Unix

How to Rename a File or Directory in Linux or Unix

This is a short article that will solve a very common problem encountered by newbies: how to rename a file or directory in Linux or Unix?

In fact, Linux or Unix do not shipped with a native command to rename files or directories.

But, GNU Coreutils provides mv (short for move) command, that is used to move files or directories from one location to another.

By leveraging this feature in mv command we can rename files and directories.

 

Table of Contents:

How to Rename a File or Directory in Linux or Unix

Syntax of mv Command for Renaming Files or Directories on Linux:

To obtain help on command line syntax of mv command, execute following command on a Linux or Unix shell.

# mv --help
Usage: mv [OPTION]... [-T] SOURCE DEST
  or:  mv [OPTION]... SOURCE... DIRECTORY
  or:  mv [OPTION]... -t DIRECTORY SOURCE...
Rename SOURCE to DEST, or move SOURCE(s) to DIRECTORY.

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.
      --backup[=CONTROL]       make a backup of each existing destination file
  -b                           like --backup but does not accept an argument
  -f, --force                  do not prompt before overwriting
  -i, --interactive            prompt before overwrite
  -n, --no-clobber             do not overwrite an existing file
If you specify more than one of -i, -f, -n, only the final one takes effect.
      --strip-trailing-slashes  remove any trailing slashes from each SOURCE
                                 argument
  -S, --suffix=SUFFIX          override the usual backup suffix
  -t, --target-directory=DIRECTORY  move all SOURCE arguments into DIRECTORY
  -T, --no-target-directory    treat DEST as a normal file
  -u, --update                 move only when the SOURCE file is newer
                                 than the destination file or when the
                                 destination file is missing
  -v, --verbose                explain what is being done
  -Z, --context                set SELinux security context of destination
                                 file to default type
      --help     display this help and exit
      --version  output version information and exit

The backup suffix is '~', unless set with --suffix or SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX.
The version control method may be selected via the --backup option or through
the VERSION_CONTROL environment variable.  Here are the values:

  none, off       never make backups (even if --backup is given)
  numbered, t     make numbered backups
  existing, nil   numbered if numbered backups exist, simple otherwise
  simple, never   always make simple backups

GNU coreutils online help: <https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/>
Full documentation at: <https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/mv>
or available locally via: info '(coreutils) mv invocation'

 

How to Rename a File in Linux or Unix:

To rename a file, we can use mv command as follows.

# mv -v file1 file2
renamed 'file1' -> 'file2'

 

How to Rename a directory in Linux or Unix:

To rename a directory, we can use mv command as follows.

# mv -v dir1 dir2
renamed 'dir1' -> 'dir2'

We have used –v switch in above commands to display the output of above mv command on the console. However, if we omit –v switch, the mv command won’t display any output, despite of successful execution.

 

Access Help Manual for mv Command on Linux:

To keep things simple and limit the scope of this article, we are not discussing each command line switch here. You can refer to GNU official documentation of mv command or use the following command to access the manual of the mv command.

# man mv

A snapshot of the manual on a CentOS 8 based Linux system is as follows.

MV(1)                            User Commands                           MV(1)

NAME
       mv - move (rename) files

SYNOPSIS
       mv [OPTION]... [-T] SOURCE DEST
       mv [OPTION]... SOURCE... DIRECTORY
       mv [OPTION]... -t DIRECTORY SOURCE...

DESCRIPTION
       Rename SOURCE to DEST, or move SOURCE(s) to DIRECTORY.

       Mandatory  arguments  to  long  options are mandatory for short options
       too.

       --backup[=CONTROL]
              make a backup of each existing destination file

       -b     like --backup but does not accept an argument

       -f, --force
              do not prompt before overwriting
 Manual page mv(1) line 1 (press h for help or q to quit)

That's all for now, stay tuned for our next article on how to bulk rename files or directories on Linux or Unix?

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