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If I wanted to create multiple directories (on the same level) and then feed it a comma seperated list of directory names (or something to that effect)?

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man mkdir.... – Sparhawk Feb 10 at 9:30
Any time you want to know if a command can do some thing you want done, type man followed by the name of the command. – David Richerby Feb 10 at 18:22
@JacobVlijm The GNU coreutils 8.21 manpage for mkdir says, "NAME mkdir - make directories // SYNOPSIS mkdir [OPTION]... [DIRECTORY]... // DESCRIPTION Create the DIRECTORY(ies) if they do not already exist." That seems pretty clear that you can make more than one directory. – David Richerby Feb 10 at 22:20
@JacobVlijm Man pages jargon is not obvious without instruction, but in the technical language of man pages, the info is totally clear, even in the given quote. Note the ... after [DIRECTORY], meaning that argument can be repeated. So DIRECTORY(ies) refers to all passed DIRECTORY arguments. However, "RTFM" comments sometimes forget there is a notation to learn. – Blaisorblade Feb 11 at 18:51
@Blaisorblade Thanks! that is informative! – Jacob Vlijm Feb 11 at 18:59
up vote 76 down vote accepted

Short answer

mkdir takes multiple arguments, simply run

mkdir dir_1 dir_2
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You can use lists to create directories and it can get pretty wild.

Same examples to get people thinking about it:

mkdir sa{1..50}
mkdir -p sa{1..50}/sax{1..50}
mkdir {a-z}12345 
mkdir {1,2,3}
mkdir test{01..10}
mkdir -p `date '+%y%m%d'`/{1,2,3} 
mkdir -p $USER/{1,2,3} 
  1. 50 directories from sa1 through sa50
  2. same but each of the directories will hold 50 times sax1 through sax50 (-p will create parent directories if they do not exist.
  3. 26 directories from a12345 through z12345
  4. comma separated list makes dirs 1, 2 and 3.
  5. 10 directories from test01 through test10.
  6. same as 4 but with the current date as a directory and 1,2,3 in it.
  7. same as 4 but with the current user as a directory and 1,2,3 in it.

So, if I understood it correctly and you want to create some directories, and within them new directories, then you could do this:

mkdir -p sa{1..10}/{1,2,3}

and get sa1, sa2,...,sa10 and within each dirs 1, 2 and 3.

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I agree with @gniourf_gniourf… there are no usages of regular expressions in your answer. Did you mean to say something else, or to provide a different example? – Slipp D. Thompson Feb 10 at 4:02
@gniourf_gniourf done :) – Rinzwind Feb 10 at 7:35
It is worth mentioning that brace expansion in not defined in the POSIX shell:… For example it will not work in dash which is the default /bin/sh on Ubuntu. – pabouk Feb 10 at 9:19
This answer depends on the shell doing expansion of your input before providing that input as arguments to mkdir. It's much more accurate to just say that mkdir can create multiple dirs with multiple arguments and then talk about how a given shell can make that easier. – deed02392 Feb 11 at 5:55

Something like this? (thanks to muru for the printf tip)

printf '%s' 'foo,bar,baz' | xargs -d, mkdir
$ ls
$ printf '%s' 'foo,bar,baz' | xargs -d, mkdir
$ ls
bar  baz  foo

You can wrap it into a function for ease of use:

function mkdir_cs {
    printf '%s' "$1" | xargs -d, mkdir
$ ls
$ mkdir_cs 'foo,bar,baz'
$ ls
bar  baz  foo
share|improve this answer
Just a printf "%s" "$1" | xargs -d, mkdir should be enough. – muru Feb 9 at 18:53

So you want comma separated list of directory names ? That can be done.

Shell + coreutils

Since everybody is posting oneliners, here's mine as well ( mkdir + parameter substitution plus + shell redirection ).

skolodya@ubuntu:$ ls

skolodya@ubuntu:$ mkdir $( tr '[,\n]' ' '   < /home/xieerqi/dirList.txt   )                                           

skolodya@ubuntu:$ ls
dirFive/  dirfour/  dirone/  dirthree/  dirtwo/


AWK is a text processing language, but it has very nice system() function which will call the default shell , and run command[s] enclosed in parenthesis ( which must be a string).

skolodya@ubuntu:$ awk -F ',' '{for(i=1;i<=NF;i++) system("mkdir "$i)}' dirList.txt                                    

skolodya@ubuntu:$ ls -ld dir*                                                                                         
-rw-rw-r-- 1 xieerqi xieerqi   23 Feb  9 11:41 dirList.txt
drwxrwxr-x 2 xieerqi xieerqi 4096 Feb  9 11:42 dirone/
drwxrwxr-x 2 xieerqi xieerqi 4096 Feb  9 11:42 dirthree/
drwxrwxr-x 2 xieerqi xieerqi 4096 Feb  9 11:42 dirtwo/

skolodya@ubuntu:$ cat dirList.txt                                                                                     

Or you could remove , with gsub() function, and call system("mkdir "$0) but that may be a problem if you want to create directories with spaces in their name


Pythonic way of doing the same , would be to read each line, get rid of trailing \n , shove everything into one list, and iterate over the list items and create dirs per list item. Note that in the example bellow, /home/xieerqi/dirList.txt is the full path given to my file, and we make up full path of each new directory by joining string /home/username/ and the dir name read from list. Substitute your own values as necessary

skolodya@ubuntu:$ ls                                                                                                  

skolodya@ubuntu:$ /home/xieerqi/                                                                           

skolodya@ubuntu:$ ls
dirFive/  dirfour/  dirone/  dirthree/  dirtwo/

skolodya@ubuntu:$ cat /home/xieerqi/
#!/usr/bin/env python
import os
with open("/home/xieerqi/dirList.txt") as file:
   for line in file:
         for directory in line.strip().rsplit(','):
             path = '/home/xieerqi/testdir/' +  directory
share|improve this answer
I don't think the asker actually wants the list to be comma-separated; I'm pretty sure that was just their guess at what the syntax might be. – David Richerby Feb 10 at 18:23
Well, OP probably didn't to exactly have comma-separated list, however it's sure may be used as a method, point being " lists can be used,too, you don't have to type out name of each dir individually". Especially that will be useful when a big list cannot be generated with ranges, like dir{1..1000}. Say , you want to make a directory per username, or per project, or per geographic location, like a city – Serg Feb 10 at 18:46

Make a list of the names for your desired directories using line breaks instead of commas as a separator. Save that list.

mkdir `cat list`

You should now have all the directories named in your list.

share|improve this answer
Nice one. Do not think I saw that one before :D +1 – Rinzwind Feb 10 at 12:43
Yes, that will work, however , with a caveat - the directory names have to be one whole string. If one line is spaced dir , then it will create two dirs , spaced and `dir. – Serg Feb 10 at 18:41
Yeah - you can't even successfully do any kind of escaping for the spaces, either - junk\ dir in the list file gives two directories, junk\ and dir. Gave me a panic when I saw a \ in a directory name. – Jon V Feb 11 at 0:02

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