When I import pictures from my camera in Shotwell, it also imports the video clips. This is somewhat annoying, as I would like to store my videos in another folder. I've tried to write a bash command to do this, but have not had success.

I need a command that meets the following requirements:

  • Locate all files in a directory structure that do not have an extension of .jpg, .png, .gif, or .xcf (case insensitive).
  • Move all of these files into a target directory, regardless of whether the file names or directory paths contain spaces or special characters.

Any help would be appreciated!

EDIT: I'm using the default shell in Ubuntu, meaning that some commands are aliased, etc.

EDIT 2: I've attempted this myself (not the copy part, just the listing of files part). I turned on extglob and ran the following command:

$ ls -R /path | awk '
  NF&&f{ print s"/"$0 }'

This lists everything. I tried using grep on the end of it, but haven't the foggiest idea of how to get it to not match a pattern I give it. The extglob switch didn't help much with grep, even though it does help with other commands.

  • You'll have better luck attempting this yourself and asking specific questions about what's going wrong.
    – drs
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 2:54

3 Answers 3


You can use find to find all files in a directory tree that match (or don't match) some particular tests, and then to do something with them. For this particular problem, you could use:

find -type f ! \( -iname '*.png' -o -iname '*.gif' -o -iname '*.jpg' -o -iname '*.xcf' \) -exec echo mv {} /new/path \;

This limits the search to regular files (-type f), and then to files whose names do not (!) have the extension *.png in any casing (-iname '*.png') or (-o) *.gif, and so on. All the extensions are grouped into a single condition between \( ... \). For each matching file it runs a command (-exec) that moves the file, the name of which is inserted in place of the {}, into the directory /new/path. The \; tells find that the command is over.

The name substitution happens inside the program-execution code, so spaces and other special characters don't matter.

If you want to do this just inside Bash, you can use Bash's extended pattern matching features. These require that shopt extglob is on, and globstar too. In this case, use:

mv **/!(*.[gG][iI][fF]|*.[pP][nN][gG]|*.[xX][cC][fF]|*.[jJ][pP][gG]) /new/path

This matches all files in subdirectories (**) that do not match *.gif, *.png, etc, in any combination of character cases, and moves them into the new path. The expansion is performed by the shell, so spaces and special characters don't matter again.

The above assumes all files are in subdirectories. If not, you can repeat the part after **/ to include the current directory too.

There are similar features in zsh and other shells, but you've indicated you're using Bash.

(A further note: parsing ls is never a good idea - just don't try it.)

  • 1
    This only for GNU find, not POSIX find.
    – cuonglm
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 3:15
  • I think you'd be better off with -exec mv {} +. Also - you're wrong about ls. It does the opposite thing that find does. find finds ls lists. It parses itself, by the way. And even if what I say is not true - you sure don't make any attempt to backup your blanketed statement. And please don't link to that wooledge wiki thing - it is a terrible source of information - and not just on that page. For my part, here's a fine example of how easily ls is parsed. And by the way - it would work the same there if they were newlines not spaces
    – mikeserv
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 8:54
  • Did you write that on the wrong answer? Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 8:56
  • It could use +, but it really doesn't matter and it's much less clear. I thought it might be the wrong answer since I didn't link to wooledge here (although I have in other answers you've undoubtedly read), so "that page" seems like a dangling reference. Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 9:04
  • 3
    There was one the other day about quoting variable expansions (they're for it, by the way); I agree that it's often a bit enthusiastic. I also agree that the linked answer shows how easily ls is parsed, by the way, but I think we differ on just how easily that is — that was a lot of clever work. So "never do it" is still good general advice to anyone who needs advice Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 9:22

You use Ubuntu, so you will have GNU find, try:

find . -maxdepth 1 ! -iregex ".*\.\(jpg\|png\|gif\|xcf\)$" -exec mv -- -t /path/to/newdir "{}" +
  • -iregex use regex to find filename, but case insensitive, ! negates the regex.

  • -exec command + run command for files matching. It's like using find -print0 with xargs -0. Using this we can move multiple files found with one mv command, so the total number of invocation command is less than the number of matched files.

  • -maxdepth 1 limit find to search only in current directory, if you want recursive, remove it.


There's no need to overcomplicate this! Why not just:

mkdir ../temp
mv  *.{jpg,png,gif,xcf} ../temp/
mv * /desired/target/directory/
mv ../temp/* .
rmdir ../temp

This won't work for a whole directory tree of course, just one flat directory of files.

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