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In terminal I can rename a single file that starts with a dash, i.e.

mv ./-file file

I can also rename all files in a directory that start with a dash, i.e.

for f in ./-*; do rename 's/-//' "$f"; done

However, how can I do this recursively. I have tried using the find command, the rename command, and a recursive for loop. By the way, a lot of the file names have more than one dash. I would only want to remove the first dash. Thanks!

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  • It's a bad idea having file names beginning with - (dash) because that is used as a prefix to signify parametesr for many commands. ie $ mv a -a mv: invalid option -- 'a' Try 'mv --help' for more information. Feb 13, 2017 at 2:18
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix Thanks. I named a bunch of files this way a few years back before I got to enjoy the wonderful world of Linux. This is why I'm renaming any files I had named this way.
    – jbrock
    Feb 13, 2017 at 2:32
  • I like your phrase "wonderful world of Linux" :) Feb 13, 2017 at 2:48
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    the proper way to loop over files is for f in ./-* ; do .... (this has many advantages, such as giving you possibility to give "$f" to any program without fearing it takes the filename as options. but there are other advantages as well, which I won't go into details here (look for stephaneChazelas answers, one has a lot of relevant details)) Feb 15, 2017 at 9:48
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    @jbrock: no, it should work (and avoid many other unpleasant side effects) but then the first argument to rename should be s/-// instead of s/^-// Feb 15, 2017 at 18:30

2 Answers 2

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Using find and rename:

find . -iname '-*' -execdir rename -n 's:./-:./:' {} +

find . -iname '-*' matches all filenames beginning with a -, and then -execdir ... {} + runs the command with those filenames as arguments, after cding to the directory containing the files. This means that the command arguments always has filenames of the form ./-foo. Then it's easy to just match the - after the ./ in a regex.

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  • Very nice. That is exactly what it seemed that needed to be done, cd to each directory that contains those files. Thanks! :)
    – jbrock
    Feb 13, 2017 at 2:37
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I guess this should work as well

for i in $(find . -iname '-*') ; do mv $i $(echo $i | sed -e "s/-//"); done

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