Take the 2-minute tour ×
Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems.. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When moving large directories using mv, is there a way to view the progress (%)? The cp command on gentoo had a -g switch that showed the progress.

share|improve this question
Measure pipe throughput in the shell might help, although I don't know if it's possible to easily use those tools when moving a file –  Michael Mrozek Oct 1 '10 at 6:42

6 Answers 6

up vote 23 down vote accepted

You can build a patched cp and mv which then both support the -g switch to show progress. There are instructions and patches at this page. However: The page instructs you to do

$ sudo cp src/cp /usr/bin/cp
$ sudo cp src/mv /usr/bin/mv

which overwrites the original cp and mv. This has two disadvantages: Firstly, if an updated coreutils package arrives at your system, they are overwritten. Secondly, if the patched version has a problem, they might break scripts relying on standard cp and mv. I would rather do something like this:

$ sudo cp src/cp /usr/local/bin/cpg
$ sudo cp src/mv /usr/local/bin/mvg

which copies the files to /usr/local/bin which is intended for user compiled programs and gives them a different name. So when you want a progress bar, you say mvg -g bigfile /mnt/backup and use mv normally.

Also you can do alias mvg="/usr/local/mvg -g" then you only need to say mvg bigfile /mnt/backup and directly get the progress bar.

share|improve this answer

I don't like the idea to overwrite binaries from coreutil when there are simpler solutions, so here are mine:

rsync: Rsync copies files and has a -P switch for a progress bar. So if you have rsync installed, you could use a simple alias in your shells dotfile:

alias cp='rsync -aP'

The downside is, that rsync is a little bit slower than cp, but you should measure this with time and decide for your self, I can live with it :-)

Shell Script: A shell script can also create the progress bar. I found this a while ago on the net and I don't remember the source:

   strace -q -ewrite cp -- "${1}" "${2}" 2>&1 \
      | awk '{
        count += $NF
            if (count % 10 == 0) {
               percent = count / total_size * 100
               printf "%3d%% [", percent
               for (i=0;i<=percent;i++)
                  printf "="
               printf ">"
               for (i=percent;i<100;i++)
                  printf " "
               printf "]\r"
         END { print "" }' total_size=$(stat -c '%s' "${1}") count=0

This will look like:

% cp_p /home/echox/foo.dat /home/echox/bar.dat
66% [===============================>                      ]


‘bar’ - ‘cat’ with ASCII progress bar

bar is a small shell script to display a process bar for all kind of operations (cp, tar, etc.). You can find examples on the project homepage.

Its also written for the bourne shell, so it will run nearby everywhere.

share|improve this answer
I love the "unix"-ness of having a program just to create a progress bar. –  Steven D Oct 1 '10 at 15:28
bar doesn't wrap mv yet. –  Tobu Jan 2 '11 at 23:04
Credit for the shell script –  Lamnk Jun 26 '11 at 16:42

You can use pipe viewer command pv to show progress bar:

pv /original/file > /new/file

I often use this to copy a big file over a mounted network filesystem (combine with gzip and tar). The drawback is that you can only copy one file and not directory. And you must give the new file a name, you can not just give destination directory like cp does. However copying is not pv's purpose. It is a powerful tool and do much more than just copy file. See the homepage for more examples of pv.

A much better option is to use rsync -aP. If you want to mv instead, append the flag --remove-source-files. Add this to your .bashrc if you want to use the commands frequently:

alias rscp='rsync -aP'
alias rsmv='rsync -aP --remove-source-files'

The downside here is rsync only shows progress, not a progress bar.

share|improve this answer

If your goal is to move/copy a directory with progress bar, but avoiding non-terminal GUI, mc (Midnight Commander) is a good choice.

share|improve this answer

First off: I never copy large files without using ionice, unless I know that I will not want to use the computer for half an hour or more.

Second: all my partitions are jouranled so intrapartition copying takes not time. If it is a long copy I do a "du -sm" on the files and "df -m|grep copy_to_partition". Then if curious how much more time it will take I do the "df" again and see how much of the files was copied.

share|improve this answer

There's a new tool called cv that can find any descriptor related to a running command and show progress and speed: https://github.com/Xfennec/cv

cv -w

outputs the stats for all running cp,mv etc. operations

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.