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I am trying to make a bash script that will find all the mp3s in my Downloads folder and move them into a music folder. Why won't this line work?

find ./ -type f -name \*.mp3 | mv *.mp3 /home/mitch/Desktop/Music/$ARTIST

I tried using a pipeline to have the information from the first command translate to the second, but I have never used a pipeline before and don't know if I'm doing it wrong or if I have the wrong idea of what they are used for.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The mv command do not use its stdin, so you have to translate the stdin to a parameter, and for this can be used xargs:

find ./ -type f -name '*.mp3' | xargs mv -t /home/mitch/Desktop/Music/$ARTIST

Also, you can directly use the -exec action of find:

find ./ -type f -name '*.mp3' -exec mv {} /home/mitch/Desktop/Music/$ARTIST ';'


As pointed out by @geirha, the first command do not work if you have filenames containing spaces. In such a case it should be as follows

find ./ -type f -name '*.mp3' -print0 | xargs -0 mv -t /home/mitch/Desktop/Music/$ARTIST
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Hey thanks a lot. The first one didn't work for some reason, but the second one did. I'm just starting this stuff so I don't know what the parts you added means, but hopefully I can figure it out. – LurkDog Mar 1 '12 at 6:57
@LurkDog, the first one, with xargs, will fail if any of the filenames contain whitespace or quote characters, so that's probably why it failed for you. The second one, using find's -exec instead, is 100% safe in this regard. No matter what characters the filenames contain, it'll pass them on to mv intact. – geirha Mar 1 '12 at 8:26

The advantage of xargs is that command line expansion. If you had a command that returned a very large amount of text (or many files all on one command) the you would need xargs.

If you had several thousand files in a directory and wanted to run some script on that list, you might try "./myprogram *", but if your program has any limits on the size of a parameter you might blow the buffer by expanding *. Also, the command line itself has limits so the command may fails because the command line buffer is overrun. The use of xargs will avoid the problem.

lastly, the -print0 on find will put null delimiters for spaces in the returned file names, and the -0 option on xargs will interpret those nulls. Read man xargs.

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