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Manual Pages  — MV


mv – move files



mv [-f | -i | -n] [-hv] source target
mv [-f | -i | -n] [-v] source ... directory


In its first form, the mv utility renames the file named by the source operand to the destination path named by the target operand. This form is assumed when the last operand does not name an already existing directory.

In its second form, mv moves each file named by a source operand to a destination file in the existing directory named by the directory operand. The destination path for each operand is the pathname produced by the concatenation of the last operand, a slash, and the final pathname component of the named file.

The following options are available:
  Do not prompt for confirmation before overwriting the destination path. (The -f option overrides any previous -i or -n options.)
  If the target operand is a symbolic link to a directory, do not follow it. This causes the mv utility to rename the file source to the destination path target rather than moving source into the directory referenced by target.
  Cause mv to write a prompt to standard error before moving a file that would overwrite an existing file. If the response from the standard input begins with the character ‘y’ or ‘Y’, the move is attempted. (The -i option overrides any previous -f or -n options.)
  Do not overwrite an existing file. (The -n option overrides any previous -f or -i options.)
  Cause mv to be verbose, showing files after they are moved.

It is an error for the source operand to specify a directory if the target exists and is not a directory.

If the destination path does not have a mode which permits writing, mv prompts the user for confirmation as specified for the -i option.

As the rename(2) call does not work across file systems, mv uses cp(1) and rm(1) to accomplish the move. The effect is equivalent to:

rm -f destination_path && \
cp -pRP source_file destination && \
rm -rf source_file


The utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


Rename file foo to bar, overwriting bar if it already exists:

    $ mv -f foo bar


The -h, -n, and -v options are non-standard and their use in scripts is not recommended.


cp(1), rm(1), symlink(7)


The mv utility is expected to be IEEE Std 1003.2 ("POSIX.2") compatible.


A mv command appeared in AT&T v1 .

MV (1) March 15, 2013

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