How do I move files and not directories into another folder/parent folder?

I have a folder structure that is extremely ugly, with some .mp3 files buried 6 levels deep in a sub-folder.

I want to end up with all of the files (mostly .mp3 but not all) in one directory, with no subdirectories at all, using Ubuntu.


There is a great answer in the askubuntu-QA.

To do so, Open a terminal and execute this command:

mv  -v ~/Downloads/* ~/Videos/

It will move all the files and folders from Downloads folder to Videos folder.

To Move all files, but not folders:

But, If you are interested to move all files (but not folders) from Downloads folder to Videos folder, use this command

find ~/Downloads/ -type f -print0 | xargs -0 mv -t ~/Videos

To move only files from the Download folders, but not from sub-folders:

If you want to move all files from the Downloads folder, but not any files within folders in the Download folder, use this command:

find ~/Downloads/ -maxdepth 1 -type f -print0 | xargs -0 mv -t ~/Videos

here, -maxdepth option specifies how deep find should try, 1 means, only the directory specified in the find command. You can try using 2, 3 also to test.

See the Ubuntu find manpage for a detailed explanation.


  • If what I want to do is copy all files to the folder will I just have to change mv to cp? I am new to linux – Neoryder May 25 '16 at 10:30


find /src/dir -type f -exec mv --backup=numbered -t /dst/dir {} +

The command will find all regular files under /src/dir (including all subdirectories) and move them to the /dst/dir by use of the command mv. Just replace the directories by yours. Files with the same names will be renamed automatically.

Selecting files to move

If you want to move just MP3 files, add -iname "*.mp3" option to the find command after -type f.

Comparison to the reply by c0dev

Only the second command in the c0dev's reply answers the question. Below is how does it compare to this reply. The points 3. and 4. can be resolved in the other reply the same way as here.

  1. Except mv the solution with -exec + does not need to call an additional command like xargs or parallel and hand over the file names twice.
  2. The other reply will silently overwrite files which have the same name. Here the files will be automatically renamed thanks to the option --backup=numbered. Unfortunately these backups with suffix like ~3~ will be hidden in most of the file manages by default. Unfortunately mv does not allow changing of the suffix but it could be easily post-processed by additional commands. This is a GNU extension.
  3. Contrary to -print0 -exec command {} + is a part of IEEE Std 1003.1 (POSIX), ISO/IEC 9945 and The Single UNIX Specification standards. Thus it should be more portable. See IEEE Std 1003.1, 2004 Edition, IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition and 0000243: Add -print0 to "find". But anyway the required -t switch of mv is a GNU extension so the whole command is not portable between POSIX systems.

Note: In the case find would be able to produce paths starting with - (I do not know of any such implementation of find at the moment.) the {} should be preceded by the end-of-options indicator: --.

  • Error: find: missing argument to `-exec' – Chris Oct 12 '13 at 23:05
  • @Chris: You are right, it seems that {} must be as the last argument. Corrected. – pabouk Oct 12 '13 at 23:27
  • @Chris: Does it work now as you wished? If yes, you can probably accept the answer so your question does not show up as "not-resolved". – pabouk Oct 15 '13 at 9:58
  • This is what I am running, and getting directory-not-found errors: – Chris Dec 30 '13 at 20:51
  • what I am running: clstal@clap:~$ ls 1st script.R Firefox_wallpaper.png part1vidproj zotero pdf manager Desktop mozilla.pdf Pictures Documents parent Videos clstal@clap:~$ find /source/directory -type f -exec mv -t /destination/directory {} + find: `/source/directory': No such file or directory – Chris Dec 30 '13 at 21:09

Unfortunately, I do not have a high enough reputation to comment on the marked solution. However, I wanted to caution others about an issue I ran into. It's quite amateur; however, when you're doing several things it may not come to mind at first. Hopefully, it will help others.


Variations of the following message was provided after initiating the command. The command then creates multiple files.

mv: `/data/share/docs/src/dir/filename.ext' and `/data/share/docs/src/dst/filename.ext' are the same file


The /src is a parent of the /dst (e.g. /src/../dst/).


While there may be a better solution, I simply moved the files to a temporary directory outside of my /src and then reran the command to place them back within the /src/../dst directory I wanted them to end up in.

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