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I was surprised recently when I did something like mv ./* ../somedirectory and found that files like .gitignore were not moved.

I do most of my work in zsh on OS X, and this surprise bit me in bash on CentOS. I tried bash on OS X and found the same behavior: * does not match dot files. This seems very undesirable to me, but apparently it's the bash default. (It may be the zsh default too for all I remember, but I may have changed it years ago in my .zshrc and forgotten it ever worked differently.)

How can I configure bash to behave as I expected: for * to match all files, and not ignore dot files.

In case this is at all unclear, here's how to reproduce it

cd /tmp
mkdir {t,d}est
touch test/{.,}{1,2,3,4,5,6,7}
ls -hal test
mv test/* dest
ls -hal test     # notice dot files are still there
ls -hal dest     # notice only some files were mv'ed
share|improve this question
Yes, they're related. That didn't show up when I searched (probably because the questioner of that didn't mention globbing or dot files), but it's really a different question. He was asking how to move the files, and I was asking how to change the shell behavior, and specifically for bash. I might not have asked if that question had shown up for me (since your extremely complete and thorough answer there includes the bash setting) but it's still a different question, and someone looking for an answer to my question isn't necessarily going to find his question. – iconoclast Jun 18 '12 at 14:41
That whole “someone looking for an answer to my question isn't necessarily going to find his question” business is exactly why we have this way of closing questions as duplicates. – Gilles Jun 18 '12 at 22:05
up vote 9 down vote accepted


As you already noticed bash won't match a . at the start of the name or a slash. To change the matching regarding the dot you have to set the dotglob option - man bash:

dotglob If set, bash includes filenames beginning with a `.'  in
    the results of pathname expansion.

To enable/set it with bash use shopt, e.g:

shopt -s dotglob

For zsh you can also use the dotglob option but but you will have to use setopt to enable it, e.g:

setopt dotglob
share|improve this answer

I tested this and it solves the issue:

shopt -s dotglob


~/stackexchangeanswers/40662$ ls -hal dest
total 8.0K
drwxr-xr-x 2 jodiec jodiec 4.0K 2012-06-12 22:15 .
drwxr-xr-x 4 jodiec jodiec 4.0K 2012-06-12 22:15 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 jodiec jodiec    0 2012-06-12 22:15 1
-rw-r--r-- 1 jodiec jodiec    0 2012-06-12 22:15 .1
-rw-r--r-- 1 jodiec jodiec    0 2012-06-12 22:15 2
-rw-r--r-- 1 jodiec jodiec    0 2012-06-12 22:15 .2
-rw-r--r-- 1 jodiec jodiec    0 2012-06-12 22:15 3
-rw-r--r-- 1 jodiec jodiec    0 2012-06-12 22:15 .3
share|improve this answer
Sorry but Ulrich answered first. – iconoclast Jun 13 '12 at 3:44
We're all on the same team. It's ok. – Jodie C Jun 13 '12 at 4:46

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