On Linux (Debian, Ubuntu Mint...),
Is there any option command or something that I can use to transfer files to another user without having to do :

sudo mv /home/poney/folderfulloffiles /home/unicorn/
sudo chown -R unicorn:unicorn /home/unicorn/folderfulloffiles

3 Answers 3


Use rsync(1):

rsync \
  --remove-source-files \
  --chown=unicorn:unicorn \
    /home/poney/folderfulloffiles /home/unicorn/
  • 6
    Thanks @dawud - this is my daily "stuff I didn't know and can't understand how I missed it"
    – Jenny D
    Apr 15, 2014 at 10:04
  • 1
    @JennyD you might want to take a look at the usermap and groupmap options as well.
    – dawud
    Apr 15, 2014 at 10:09
  • 2
    But this doesn't mv it, right? Only copies? Or does it mv it?
    – mikeserv
    Apr 15, 2014 at 11:00
  • @mikeserv duly noted, see my edit
    – dawud
    Apr 15, 2014 at 11:03

Per @Kevin in the comments below, the --file - |pipe syntax is redundant. So I've removed it.

This can also be done with tar:

sudo tar -C${SRC_DIR} --remove-files --group=unicorn --owner=unicorn -c ./* | 
    sudo tar -C${TGT_DIR} -pvx
  • Pretty sure the -f - is implied on both ends.
    – Kevin
    Apr 15, 2014 at 21:09
  • 1
    @Kevin Not here. Here it's specified.
    – mikeserv
    Apr 15, 2014 at 21:16
  • Yes, you specified it, but it's not necessary. Your command works fine without the f - part.
    – Kevin
    Apr 15, 2014 at 21:31
s=/home/poney/; f=folderfulloffiles; d=/home/unicorn/ 
sudo mv $s$f $d && sudo chown -R unicorn:unicorn $d$f

About the same length as the other answers, and note since they're all using the same library calls under the hood, they're all doing exactly the same thing -- unless, as Gilles notes, this is on the same filesystem and device, in which case mv is really a rename, which makes it more efficient than rsync or tar.

  • It isn't a : instead of a . when dealing with chown ?
    – Kiwy
    Apr 15, 2014 at 12:54
  • 2
    Hmmm -- interesting. It's that way in the man page, but I've always used a dot. Looks like they took it out of the GNU man page about a decade ago because it's not POSIX portable. Still works though (with the chown from GNU coreutils on linux), but I'll change that above.
    – goldilocks
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:03
  • 1
    chown typically takes both : and ..
    – slm
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:07
  • 1
    You could do it a little shorter: nu=unicorn h=/home f=folderfulloffiles ; sudo mv $h/poney/$f $h/$nu/$f ; sudo chown -R ${nu}:$nu $_ - though that's hardly the point of your answer, which is good and I've already upvoted.
    – mikeserv
    Apr 15, 2014 at 13:13
  • 4
    This solution has the advantage that if the source and the destination are on the same filesystem, the file is moved rather than copied and the original erased. Apr 15, 2014 at 22:22

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