Move files and directories using the MV command in Linux

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The mv command can be used to move a file from one directory to another directory. In this example, file1 is moved from /home/john.doe to /tmp.

[john.doe@server1 ~]# mv /home/john.doe/file1 /tmp


In this example, file1 will no longer reside in the /home/john.doe directory, and instead will only reside in the /tmp directory.

[john.doe@server1 ~]# ls /home/john.doe

[john.doe@server1 ~]# ls /tmp


When the target directory and new file name is provided, the new file will have the new file name. In this example, file1 is moved and the new file name is file2.

[john.doe@server1 ~]# cp /home/john.doe/file1 /tmp/file2


Change file name

The mv command followed by the current file name and then a new file name can be used to create a new file with a different name. In this example, file1 is moved and renamed to file2. This can be dangerous. If file2 already exists, file2 will be overwritten with no prompt or warning. 

[john.doe@server1 ~]# cp file1 file2


In this example, only file2 will exist. 

[john.doe@server1 ~]# ls /home/john.doe


Interactive prompt

The -i or --interactive option can be used to display an interactive prompt. The interactive prompt can prevent a file from being overwritten. In this example, a file named file1 already exists in both the /home/john.doe and /tmp directories. When attempting to move file1 from /home/john.doe to /tmp, a prompt appears.

[john.doe@server1 ~]# cp /home/john.doe/file1 /tmp
cp: overwrite '/tmp/file1'?


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