I have multiple files (all with the same extention) in different subfolders and I want to copy only a subset of them. For example, consider:

A/: 1.txt, 2.txt, 3.txt
B/: 4.txt, 5.txt, 6.txt
C/: 7.txt, 8.txt, 9.txt

I want to copy files 1.txt, 2.txt, 5.txt, and 8.txt to a new folder.

Is there a way to automate this operation knowing that I have more than 500 subfolders each containing a few thousand files and a list (txt file) of the files I want to copy?

2 Answers 2


If the list contains complete paths, you can move them in a loop:

while read file ; do
   mv "$file" dir/
done < list.txt

If the list contains only file names, without paths, you can use globstar.

# enable double asterisk to recurse directories
shopt -s globstar

while read file ; do
   mv **/"$file" dir/
done < list.txt
  • Thanks, It seems to be working on a small trial set. I had to modify it a little to go through all the subfolders. I'll update you once i run it on the main set
    – Bessem
    Jun 3, 2019 at 16:02

So I tweaked the central command in order to go through the subfolders

while read file ; do
   mv dir1/*/"$file" dir2/
done < list.txt


  • It's a minor tweak that depends on the contents of your input list. Another option is to use globstar to recurse directories. I have edited my answer to demonstrate.
    – xiota
    Jun 5, 2019 at 20:37

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