I am attempting to move a sub-directory from one parent directory to another for hundreds of instances, while changing the name of the sub-directory during the move. My directories are a set of numbers:

1000, 1001, 1002, 1003, ..., 1998, 1999

Each directory has a sub-folder called 'old' (e.g., 1000/old), which I want to move into the next incremented directory (and rename the sub-folder).

For example, I want to move '1000/old' to '1001/new'.

I've tried using xargs, which I' new to, so I'm not sure I'm going in the right direction. I think what I want is something like:

find 1* -name 'old' | xargs -i -t mv {} <dir+1>/new

I'm just not sure how to implement incrementing (the dir+1 bit).

I've also tried to implement a modification of the accepted answer to this question, but my modification is also not working properly (I'm using ls to test the code before I actually start moving/renaming directories):

for x in 1*; do
  ls -d "$x/old" "${x}$i/new"

The issue with the above is that the next directory becomes 10001, 10002, etc instead of 1001, 1002.

Any suggestions are much appreciated.

1 Answer 1


Shells treat strings representing integers in decimal as integers. If you have a directory whose name contains only digits with no leading zeros, you have a number and you can perform arithmetic on it.

for d in 1*; do
  mv "$d/old" "$((d+1))/new"

You can make the script more robust and only perform the move if the old subdirectory actually exists, and create the destination if necessary.

for d in 1*; do
  if [ -d "$d/old" ]; then
    mkdir -p "$((d+1))"
    mv "$d/old" "$((d+1))/new"

find isn't useful here since you aren't traversing subdirectories recursively.

  • mv "$d/old" -T "$((d+1))/new" looks better
    – Costas
    Mar 28, 2015 at 0:15
  • 1
    @Costas Does it? Why? It requires GNU mv and I see zero benefit in this situation. Mar 28, 2015 at 0:29
  • @Gilles Thank you. I didn't realize that a directory name made up of digits wouldn't be a string. Your answer is very simple and very helpful!
    – WillaB
    Mar 30, 2015 at 21:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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