In Linux (Ubuntu), how do you move all the files and directories to the parent directory?


16 Answers 16

find . -maxdepth 1 -exec mv {} .. \;

this will move hidden files as well.

You will get the message:

mv: cannot move `.' to `../.': Device or resource busy

when it tries to move . (current directory) but that won't cause any harm.

  • 1
    It will move all files from all subdirectories to the parent of the current directory, too. I'd use -maxdepth 1 to be sure.
    – raphink
    Dec 27, 2009 at 17:36
  • 1
    Now it says: mv: cannot move ./scripts' to ../scripts': Directory not empty
    – nekbaba
    Dec 27, 2009 at 17:43
  • 1
    You must have a directory called scripts in your parent directory AND in your current directory. You will have to rename this one before you move it.
    – raphink
    Dec 27, 2009 at 17:44
  • 6
    It worked but you left one one very important bit of information - you must run this from the subdirectory. Also this will not delete the subdirectory itself so you must back up one directory and do a rmdir on the subdirectory.
    – crafter
    May 10, 2016 at 16:50
  • 1
    I found this superior: find . -mindepth 1 -maxdepth 1 -exec mv -t .. -- {} + (taken from unix.stackexchange.com/q/6393/93768). No error messages and actually working in my bash script. Oct 18, 2020 at 9:00

I came here because I'm new to this subject as well. For some reason the above didn't do the trick for me. What I did to move all files from a dir to its parent dir was:

cd to/the/dir
mv * ../
  • 23
    This does not move hidden file though
    – Wavesailor
    Sep 10, 2015 at 10:51
  • 1 liner: (cd ${ANDROID_NDK_HOME}/android-ndk-r14b/ && mv * ../)
    – Gelldur
    Dec 7, 2017 at 11:51
  • you save my day.Thanks
    – Lily
    Aug 12, 2020 at 10:01

It can't be more simple than:

mv * ../

To also move hidden files:

mv /path/subfolder/{.,}* /path/ 

mv is a command to move files, * means all files and folders and ../ is the path to the parent directory.


Type this in the shell:

mv *.* ..

That moves ALL the files one level up.

The character * is a wildcard. So *.deb will move all the .deb files, and Zeitgeist.* will move Zeitgeist.avi and Zeitgeist.srt one folder up, since, of course, .. indicates the parent directory.

To move everything including folders, etc, just use * instead of *.*

  • 4
    this didn't work with the dirs! or the hidden files
    – nekbaba
    Dec 27, 2009 at 17:34
  • It works with dirs, at least for me.
    – maaartinus
    Jan 25, 2011 at 21:21
  • 7
    You want * not *.* to include directories
    – Chris S
    Apr 19, 2013 at 19:58
  • 1
    Its a nice documentary Nov 17, 2016 at 6:36
  • zsh: argument list too long: mv; bash: /usr/bin/mv: Argument list too long. Aparently it doesn't work for 80k files Jan 27, 2022 at 18:04

There is no need to change directories. Just include * at the end of path:

mv /my/folder/child/* /my/folder/

Above only moves non hidden files. To move only hidden files use .*

mv /my/folder/child/.* /my/folder/

Above two can be combined in to one command:

mv /my/folder/child/{.,}* /my/folder/

Also see: How to move all files including hidden files into parent directory via *


Assuming all your hidden files begin with dot followed by a letter or a number (which they should), you could use

mv * .[A-Za-z0-9]* ..

The .[A-Za-z0-9]* part is to make sure you don't try to move . or .. along, which would fail.


In bash you can use shopt -s dotglob to make * match all files and move them simply by

shopt -s dotglob; mv * ..

This is not the best solution since the setting is permanent for the shell until you change it by

shopt -u dotglob

but I think it's good to know.

  • 4
    Call it in a subshell: (shopt -s dotglob && mv * ..). That way, the option is only local to that subshell. Jan 26, 2013 at 20:25
  • Good answer - it's simple, includes hidden files and doesn't cause an error about copying '.' and '..' Nov 9, 2017 at 13:06

A method which causes no errors and works every time:

ls -1A . | while read -r file                                                    
    mv "./${file}" ..                                                            
find . -maxdepth 2 -type f -exec mv {} .. \;

I used a variation of above to move all the files from subfolders into the parent.

I'd got data in folders by year, but found by using metadata I could have them all in the same folder which made it easier to manage.



It's simple to move all files and folders to the parent directory in Linux.

Go to that folder and use this command:

mv * /the full path

For example, if your files and folders are as follows:


Go to that folder via cd:

cd /home/abcuser/test
mv * /home/abcuser

All your files and folders will move to the abcuser folder (parent directory).

  • 2
    Thanks @Gareth, was about to the same. Abhishek, please don't post any unrelated links, where's the sense in that? Also, check your formatting please. Additionally, /the full path does not work in Linux, you have to escape spaces with /the\ full\ path.
    – slhck
    Nov 3, 2011 at 11:47
find -type f|while read line; do mv $line ${line##*/}; done
  • Thanks for contributing an answer. While this might work in simple scenarios, piping find into while read is a bad way to use find, and better answers have already been posted. Dec 13, 2018 at 16:29

There's a lot of answers to this question, which proves the flexibility of Bash commands. However, to me a very simply solution that does the trick nicely is this one:

mv * .[^.]* .??* ..

mv move; * select all files and folders; .[^.]* collects up the hidden files, with one dot at the start of their name; .??* will select files that start with two dots followed by other characters; .. is the destination, which in this case is the parent folder.

Note, using .[^.]* and .??* will ensure you only select those files with a single dot followed by something other than a dot, and those with two dots followed by other characters.

If you'd like to avoid trying to remember this, I suggest setting up an alias, such as, alias mvallup="mv * .[^.]* .??* ..". Add this to ~/.bash_aliases. Now you can just type mvallup and it's a done deal.

A shorter version of this was suggested by William Edwards, but it didn't include hidden files. He gave an example for also moving hidden files, but that was not exampled as simply as it could have been (mv /path/subfolder/{.,}* /path/) hence why I'm posting this very simple option.


One liner to combine find and mv

Find folder in which we are interested see find

For each such folder we execute:

echo "Moving $found_folder" # Just print
(cd "$found_folder" && mv * ../); # enter dir AND move content to parent
rmdir "$found_folder" # remove dir, this will be done only when dir is empty so nice check is everything fine
for found_folder in $(find . -type d -wholename '*/config/my_catchy_name'); do echo "Moving $found_folder"; (cd "$found_folder" && mv * ../); rmdir "$found_folder"; done;
  • Moves sub dirs (when destination doesn't have already such dirs)
  • Moves hidden files
  • Moves symbolic links without making mess

As outlined by others, mv * ../ is the most straight forward way to copy all files from a sub directory to its parent directory.

However, if the list of files to copy is very large, you may run into this error:

-bash: /bin/mv: Argument list too long (see this article for more info).

Then you can use the other suggestion:

find . -mindepth 1 -maxdepth 1 -exec mv {} .. \;

Note the addition of -mindepth 1. Then the warning "mv: cannot move .' to ../.': Device or resource busy" does not appear because the current directory is not included.

Note: you have to execute these commands from the sub directory.


Simple and memorisable:

mv ./{.,}* ..

switch to sub directory and execute following command for copy or move files.

ex: a is parent directory and b is sub directory, we want to move/copy all files from b to a (sub directory to parent directory).

cd b
cp * ..
mv * ..
  • Welcome to Super User! This duplicates another answer and adds no new content. Please don't post an answer unless you actually have something new to contribute.
    – DavidPostill
    May 20, 2016 at 10:46

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