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I want to move a file from one folder to another folder.

When the file's format is with space in between (file _name.dat) and when I am using the command mv file _name.dat /tmp then the file is not moving.

But when am using mv "file _name.dat" /tmp then the file is moving.

Help me in writing a script which helps to change the file _name.dat to "file _name.dat" when it is moving automatically.

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It's not clear to me what to you want to do. Do you want to type mv file _name.dat /tmp and have it execute mv "file _name.dat" /tmp instead? –  lk- Aug 16 '12 at 17:09
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Recommended reading: $VAR vs ${VAR} and to quote or not to quote –  Gilles Aug 16 '12 at 17:43

1 Answer 1

Your question is very hard to understand. In particular, you need to copy-paste your code and copy-paste error messages.

That being said, there's a good chance that you made a classic mistake…


When a shell script contains a variable substitution (something like $file or $1), the result of the expansion is treated as a whitespace-separated sequence of wildcard patterns. The variable is not treated as a single word, but as a list of patterns. So if you write

mv $1 /tmp      # <<<< BAD

and you run myscript "file _name.dat", then the mv command receives three arguments: file, _name.dat and /tmp. If you run myscript "*.dat", then all the .dat files in the current directory are moved.

To avoid this, put the variable substitution between double quotes: mv "$1" /tmp. If you do this, mv always receives exactly two arguments: the first argument of the script, and /tmp. It is extremely rare to need to treat variables' values as lists of wildcard patterns, so remember this simple rule:

Always put double quotes around variable substitutions: "$foo", "$1", etc. This also goes for command substitutions: "$(mycommand)"

Furthermore, in case the file name begins with a dash (-), mv would treat it as an option. To avoid this, pass -- to mark the end of the options: anything after -- is a non-option argument (a file or directory name, for mv). Most commands recognize -- to mark the end of options.

mv -- "$1" /tmp

If you wanted to invoke your script by writing myscript file _name.dat /tmp in a shell, that is not possible. The script receives the arguments separately, it doesn't know how many spaces you happened to type on the command line. (This is different from Windows, where a program parses its own arguments. On unix, programs receive a list of arguments.) If you call your script from another shell script, use proper quoting in the calling script as well.

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