I have a directory that is unpacked, but is in a folder. How can I move the contents up one level? I am accessing CentOS via SSH.


9 Answers 9


With the folder called 'myfolder' and up one level in the file hierarchy (the point you want it to put) the command would be:

mv myfolder/* .

So for example if the data was in /home/myuser/myfolder then from /home/myuser/ run the command.

  • 55
    You may need to also match .* not just * if the archive contained dot-files. Also add ` && rmdir myfolder` to the end o that to remove the now extraneous folder. This is save because it will only run if the mv returns success AND because rmdir will not remove a non-empty directory.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 20:53
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    @Caleb is it possible to write both * and .* in one line? just curiosity
    – Richard
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 20:40
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    @Richard Yes, it is. The arguments for mv will all be sources except the LAST argument which needs to be the target for moving (and in the case of multiple sources, needs to be a folder).
    – Caleb
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 20:50
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    I am getting bash: /bin/mv: Argument list too long Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 7:46
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    How about nested dirs with same name i.e. exercisism/cli/cli and the problem to move cli (last) one level up?
    – Yurij
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 4:56

Just to make it crystal clear, taken from Rudu's answer above, and the comments.

If you need to move all the contents, INCLUDING files that start with a . (like .htaccess, .git, etc), you need to include both * and .* in your command. Like so:

 mv subfolder/* subfolder/.* .

That will move contents of subfolder to your current folder. Note the space before the last ".".

  • 1
    it works but I get mv: rename fake/. to ./.: Invalid argument and mv: rename fake/.. to ./..: Invalid argument
    – Maslow
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 14:52
  • If you are unsure about target folder have both folder and files inside then run command separately otherwise it will prompt: "no matches found"
    – tolginho
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 6:05

This is possible with the following methods:

  • Using rsync:

    rsync -vua --delete-after foo/ .
  • Using cp and rmdir:

    cp -vaR foo/. . && rmdir foo/
  • Using mv (with dotglob option enabled):

    shopt -s dotglob # Includes filenames beginning with a dot.
    mv -- foo/* .    # Where foo/ is the folder consisting the files.
    shopt -u dotglob # Disables previously enabled dotglob option.

    where foo/ is your folder whose content is to be moved one level up.

    See: help shopt and man bash.

  • Using mv (as suggested here):

    mv foo/* foo/.[^.]* . && rmdir foo/

    Note: It would miss a file called foo/..bar...

    Note: For POSIX shells, you need [!.].

  • What are the rsync switches -v, -u, -a and -r doing? AFAICT, -v is verbose, which just makes rsync print more information. -u means update - only copy a file if it is newer. That doesn't seem relevant. -a means archive. That will copy the owner and permissions of the file, and make the sync recursive. -r means recursive, but that's already covered by -a.
    – rjmunro
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 16:59
  • -u is useful when you don't want to spent extra time of moving data which is already there (especially for slow storage devices). I've removed -r, since it's covered by -a as you mentioned.
    – kenorb
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 17:03
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    mv foo/* foo/.[^.]* . would miss a file called foo/..bar.. for instance. Note that for POSIX shells, you need [!.]. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 17:24
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    It should be mentioned, that rsync -vua --delete-after foo/ . deletes everything else that might already exists in the current directory.
    – David
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 10:12
  • I don't see how the cp suggestion will work? It only copies the files, not moves them, and then rmdir will fail because "foo" directory is not empty. Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 13:11

just issue an mv command

mv (directory)/* .

if you want to delete the directory then add

rm -rf (directory)

Assumed that you are in a parent directory of (directory)

If you are inside the (directory) then

mv * ../
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    Additional safety tip: When deleting a directory you know should be empty, rmdir complains and exits if the directory isn't empty, while rm -r would instead just have deleted it and all its contents. (It's a poka-yoke.)
    – Anko
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 11:40
  • Great point! I can't think of a reason not to do it that way.
    – Mark Lalor
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 15:03
  • @MarkLalor One reason might be the presence of hidden files, like the ubiquitous .DS_store in macOS. The mv command above won't move those (without dotglob set).
    – AkselA
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:24
  • The mv invocation as written will miss dot files, and the rm -rf one is unsafe. If the move worked correctly, you should be able to just rmdir the source directory because it will be empty. Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 13:08

i have one short hand command

cp */* .

this will copy all subfolders content on level up of course you can use move

mv */* .

or assign new distenation

cp */* /destination 

If you get the "Argument list too long" error by using mv * ../ I suggest doing this instead:

find . -name '*.*' -exec mv {} ../ \;
  • find: search a folder
  • -name: match a desired criteria
  • -exec: run the command that follows
  • {}: insert the filename found
  • \;: mark the end of the exec command

The question doesn't specify what shell, so here's a zsh variant:

mv myfolder/*(D) .

(D) ensures both dot and non-dot files are included, but, crucially, not the . and .. objects. It's equivalent to kenorb's dotglob solution.


I think surely the best answer is:

mv myfolder/mysubfolder .

Occasaionally you have the problem that both folders have the same name

mv myfolder myfolder.old 
mv myfolder.old/myfolder . 
rmdir myfolder.old
  • This is only moving one specific subfolder up one level, unlike what's requested, so no, this isn't the best answer.
    – Forage
    Commented Jan 11 at 10:45

for those of you on a shared server you'd have to use something like this

To move the files

mv -v ~/public_html/public_html/* ~/public_html/

To copy the files

cp -a ~/public_html/public_html/* ~/public_html/

  • 2
    The question above asks about moving not copying contents. This would duplicate the files by leaving the originals in a subfolder. Also being a "shared" server or not really doesn't have anything to do with this.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 11:04
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    your right and here is the answer for it... Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 11:11
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    Re your edit: how is that any different that the already upvoted answer? And what does a "shared server" have to do with it? Please edit to explain these items if this is going to be a useful contribution that adds value to what is already here.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 11:16
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    I disagree about the shared server not having nothing to do with it. The way the "dir" is entered makes a world of a difference.. Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 11:17
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    dude why you so mad?... wow.. I was just sharing a little knowledge. We all understand differently and confront different technical problems differently... Have yourself a good day Caleb.. Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 11:19

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