I wanted to copy all my pdfs to a pdf folder, for that I used this find command with the -exec option. Before I started, I created a folder named pdf in this current folder

sudo find . -type f -iname "*.pdf" -exec mv {} /pdf \;

The pdfs are gone, but not where i expected. Also there is no /pdf folder I thought there they could be. There is staff folder at /pdf

-rw-r--r--@   1 myusername  staff   9,9M 19 Aug 19:53 pdf

Any idea?


The target directory for the mv you gave as /pdf, you should have used ./pdf. Since there was no directory (folder) named pdf in the top-level directory /, but since you were root, mv moved each of the files it moved to the file /pdf. The only recoverable file is now called /pdf, and was the last one processed by mv.

As an aside, when I sudo find, I ALWAYS use the --target-directory switch to mv, and run the find with echo first, to ensure it does what I want, like this:

# NOTE: This demonstrates a FAIL
sudo find . -type f -iname '*.pdf' -exec echo mv --target-directory=/pdf {}  \;

But, I'd probably do it like this:

mkdir ./pdf
find . -type f -iname '*.pdf' -print0 | xargs -0 mv --target-directory=./pdf

mv will show an error message if the argument to --target-directory does not exist.
I use find -print0 paired with xargs -0 to deal with file names containing spaces and other silly characters.

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That's not a folder. Folders show up with a d in front of the other permissions on the far left. You'd see something like drwx-r-xr-x if it was a folder.

Instead, you've renamed each file /pdf. Renaming a file to a name that already exists deletes the original file. That means you've deleted your files, except for the last one you renamed.

Another related question deals with recovering the lost PDFs.

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