I'm not quite sure what just happened, all I did was running:

~/Desktop$ mv sublime.desktop \~/.local/share/applications/

The \ sign before ~/.local came up as autocomplete, so I thought it was okay to run it.

But instead of moving the desktop file to /.local/share/applications/ (which was my intention), the command created new folder on Desktop. (The ~ was folder)

Liso@thinkpad:~/Desktop$ ls
~  backup.sql  Apps

When I tried to remove ~:

~/Desktop$ rmdir ~
rmdir: failed to remove ‘/home/liso’: Permission denied

So what am I missing actually ?


@Ravexina ask me to ran test command to confirm whether it was a directory or a file.

Liso@thinkpad:~/Desktop$ test -d \~ && echo "it's a dir"
it's a dir`
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    just move your file to the correct location with mv ~/Desktop/\~/.local/share/applications/sublime.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/ and remove the accidently created folders: rmdir ~/Desktop/\~/.local/share/applications ~/Desktop/\~/.local/share ~/Desktop/\~/.local ~/Desktop/\~ – dessert Aug 15 '17 at 14:40
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    Related: Tilde (~) inside working unix directory – wjandrea Aug 16 '17 at 2:07

You didn't move your home directory...

  • We refer to ~ as tilde expansion, most of the times it will be replaced with the value of the $HOME shell variable, before the command get executed.

  • \ is the strongest type of quoting in the shell.

So using \~ you are skipping the tilde expansion by quoting it. Means that you are actually saying: move the "sublime.desktop" to a new file named exactly "~...".

I can't reproduce your command's result, but somehow you ended up with a file/directory exactly named ~.

Check to see if it's a file or directory and get a list of its contents:

test -d ~/Desktop/~ && ls -l ~/Desktop/~ || echo 'it is a file'

Then move them to the correct path, if it was a file to move it back you have to escape its name again, otherwise it will be expanded to /home/liso:

mv \~ new-name
mv "~" new-name # works
mv '~' new-name # also works
mv ~/Desktop/~  new-name # works fine too

And remember by rmdir ~ you are trying to remove the actual home directory: /home/liso not the ~.

  • 1
    Umm, the ~ wasn't a file like you said. It was actually an folder with .local/share/applicationdirectory inside. – Liso Aug 15 '17 at 13:30
  • Are you sure about the command you ran? – Ravexina Aug 15 '17 at 13:41
  • he's currently on Destop so I think the path is ~/Desktop/~/.local/share/applications/ – phuclv Aug 16 '17 at 1:46
  • @Liso can you give me the output of ls ~/Desktop~? – Ravexina Aug 16 '17 at 3:57

The tilde is expanded by the shell to the $HOME of the user, in your case /home/liso. In the first command you escaped the ~ so it was not expanded to the location you wanted, instead it was passed literally to mv as the symbol ~.

I think you wanted to run

mv sublime.desktop ~/.local/share/applications

(with an optional trailing /)

I would expect the command you say you ran to fail like this

mv: cannot move 'sublime.desktop' to '~/.local/share/applications/': No such file or directory

because mv does not create destination directories like that. If you really did run that command, I think you must have already had a directory actually named ~ in your Desktop with that path, ie


and if so you will now find a file there:


And you should run

mv ~/Desktop/\~/.local/share/applications/sublime.desktop ~/.local/share/sublime.desktop

But if you ran

mv sublime.desktop \~

that would create a file ~ because sublime.desktop would be renamed ~. Try reading the file

less ~Desktop/\~

If it contains the contents of your sublime.desktop file, then run

mv \~ ~/.local/share/applications/sublime.desktop
  • pretty clear to go, assumption, solution and some other ways.... – solfish Aug 15 '17 at 14:58
  • I don't think you need to escape ~ in the middle of a path – phuclv Aug 16 '17 at 1:47

The tilde character is only expanded to your home directory (among other possibilities) when it is not quoted. Putting a \ character in front of it prevents tilde expansion. When in doubt, use $HOME instead, as it is a regular shell variable with a predictable syntax and behavior.

To remove a directory named ~ (make sure there's nothing of importance in it first), you should use the same trick as before: escape the tilde so it's interpreted literally. Oh, and you'll also need to run rm recursively to remove a non-empty directory:

rm -r "~"

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