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

13 Answers 13

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.

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    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 '09 at 17:36
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    Now it says: mv: cannot move ./scripts' to ../scripts': Directory not empty – nekbaba Dec 27 '09 at 17:43
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    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 '09 at 17:44
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    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 '16 at 16:50

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 * ../
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    This does not move hidden file though – Wavesailor Sep 10 '15 at 10:51
  • 1 liner: (cd ${ANDROID_NDK_HOME}/android-ndk-r14b/ && mv * ../) – Dawid Drozd Dec 7 '17 at 11:51
  • you save my day.Thanks – Lily Aug 12 at 10:01

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 *.*

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    this didn't work with the dirs! or the hidden files – nekbaba Dec 27 '09 at 17:34
  • It works with dirs, at least for me. – maaartinus Jan 25 '11 at 21:21
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    You want * not *.* to include directories – Chris S Apr 19 '13 at 19:58
  • Its a nice documentary – BlackBurn027 Nov 17 '16 at 6:36

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.

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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.

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    Call it in a subshell: (shopt -s dotglob && mv * ..). That way, the option is only local to that subshell. – Martin Ueding Jan 26 '13 at 20:25
  • Good answer - it's simple, includes hidden files and doesn't cause an error about copying '.' and '..' – Daniel Howard Nov 9 '17 at 13:06

A method which causes no errors and works every time:

ls -1A . | while read -r file                                                    
    mv "./${file}" ..                                                            
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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.


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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.

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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).

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    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 '11 at 11:47

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 *

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find -type f|while read line; do mv $line ${line##*/}; done
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  • 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. – Scott Dec 13 '18 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.

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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 * ..
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  • 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 '16 at 10:46

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