Let's say that I have a directory /home/smit/test. Inside it I have many subdirectories and files. I want to remove only the Directory /home/smit/test and not its inner content, So that files and subdirectories of /home/smit/test will automatically be included in /home/smit/?

Also, in a real case I have /usr/share/backgrounds/all/ directory which has many subdirectories. and theses sub directories have lots of images. I want to remove all subdirectories So that their contents will be included in /usr/share/backgrounds/all/. I can do this with GUI but I want to do it with cool way by terminal. How can I do it?


In these situations there is a risk of files with the same name being overwritten. As mentioned by @Arronical, you can avoid this using the -b flag to mv which causes any identically named files to be differentiated by appending ~ to their names. However, if there are three or more files with the same name, only the first and last will be saved, so check the contents before moving to protect your files.

The first, simple case is easy; we can use a shell glob. However, this won't move hidden files, so if you have any filenames beginning with ., start by turning on dotglob

shopt -s dotglob

Then you can run:

mv -b /home/smit/test/* /home/smit
rmdir /home/smit/test

Turn off dotglob if you like (it will return to default anyway when you open a new shell):

shopt -u dotglob

For the second (real) case, we will use find, which moves hidden files by default:

Make sure you are in the right location first.

cd /usr/share/background/all
find -type f -exec echo mv -vb -- {} . \;

If that looks good, run it without echo to actually move files

find -type f -exec mv -vb -- {} . \;

Then find the directories

find -type d

If you see what you want to remove:

find -type d -delete

This is safe since it will refuse to remove directories that still have contents.

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    You can also use the -b or --backup options of mv to cope with duplicate filenames, and make backups of the original versions. – Arronical Jul 27 '17 at 9:44
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    Thanks.Now I am More cool.But I still need to take a look at man page of find to become more cooler : ) – noone Jul 27 '17 at 9:59
  • Other subdirectories are gone but,linuxmint directory is not deleting.It says this:-find: cannot delete ‘./linuxmint’: Directory not empty But other files were also not empty.I didn't find any info in man page.It holds file default_background.jpg which I can't open even from GUI. – noone Jul 27 '17 at 10:04
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    @SMITPATIL the directories should all have been emptied by the move operation. I assume you actually needed to run find -type f -exec sudo mv -vb -- {} . \; (because mv actions are write operations), but if not, were there any permission errors? Would you like to start a chat room to figure out what is happening? – Zanna Jul 27 '17 at 10:10
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    In that case that would be find SOURCE -type f -exec mv -bt TARGET -- {} + && rm -rf SOURCE. – David Foerster Jul 27 '17 at 16:14

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