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name (nonexistent)

Rename file to name.


Existing file

Overwrite existing file with source file.


name (nonexistent)

Rename directory to name.


Existing directory

Move directory to be a subdirectory of existing directory.

One or more files

Existing directory

Move files to directory.

The mv command is often aliased as mv -i in the .bashrc file, especially for the root account, to prevent inadvertently overwriting files.



Back up files before removing.


Like -b, but can take an argument specifying the type of version-control file to use for the backup. The value of type overrides the VERSION_CONTROL environment variable, which determines the type of backups made. The acceptable values for version control are:

t, numbered

Always make numbered backups.

nil, existing

Make numbered backups of files that already have them, and make simple backups of the others. This is the default.

never, simple

Always make simple backups.

none, off

Never make backups.

-f, --force

Force the move, even if target file exists; suppress messages about restricted access modes. Same as --reply=yes.


Print a help message and then exit.

-i, --interactive

Query user before removing files. Same as --reply=query.


Specify how to handle prompt if the destination exists already. Possible values are yes, no, and query.


Remove trailing slashes from source paths.

-S suffix, --suffix=suffix

Override the SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX environment variable, which determines the suffix used for making simple backup files. If the suffix is not set either way, the default is a tilde (~).


Move all source files and directories into the specified directory.

-u, --update

Do not remove a file or link if its modification date is the same as or newer than that of its replacement.

-v, --verbose

Print the name of each file before moving it.


Print version information and then exit.

Linux in a Nutshell

This directory of Linux commands is from Linux in a Nutshell, 5th Edition.

Click on any of the 687 commands below to get a description and list of available options. All links in the command summaries point to the online version of the book on Safari Bookshelf.

Buy it now, or read it online on Safari Bookshelf.


mv [option] sources target

Move or rename files and directories. The source (first column) and target (second column) determine the result (third column):

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