I have a directory called --pycache--, which I need to move to __pycache__. Using the mv command in the following way, gives me the listed output. How can I use the CLI to do what I want?

$ mv --pycache-- __pycache__
/bin/mv: unrecognized option '--pycache--/'

2 Answers 2


This is a standard issue with filenames/directories starting with less conventional symbols. Your problem is that mv is treating --pycache-- as long option name (since it starts with --, there are also short options, they start with -). Please see manpage for getopt for details about long and short options.

The standard workaround in this situation is to use an empty double dash -- before all argument, which tells the command (mv in your case, but will work with others, cp for example) to stop treating what follows as options and treat it as arguments.

Thus, your command will become:

$ mv -- --pycache--/ __pycache__

and won't fail.

  • 8
    good answer but I think you mean -- tells the command to stop treating what follows as options and treat it as arguments, not the other way round.
    – RoundTower
    Nov 26, 2011 at 12:24
  • 1
    I think it's more portable to prepend ./: mv ./--pycache-- __pycache__.
    – Kevin
    Nov 26, 2011 at 18:32
  • 3
    @Kevin That works only if the argument is a file name.
    – starblue
    Nov 26, 2011 at 18:42

Your first character - is ambiguous for the mv command (or rather, it unambiguously means that an option name follows).

Try this instead:

mv ./--ppycache-- __pycache__

Source: linux.about.com

  • 2
    +1 for alternate solution that also works if the command does not support -- Nov 26, 2011 at 12:02

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