There is a directory dir/. It contains subdirectories a-z. I need to move subdirectories a-y into subdirectory z. If that's hard, then not a-z, but by providing a list of directories that need to be moved.

How can I do this in bash?

3 Answers 3


Use brace expansion : http://www.gnu.org/software/bash/manual/html_node/Brace-Expansion.html

For your case, do:

mv {a..y} z/

If you have list of directories, say dir1, dir2, and dir3, then do something like:

mv -t z/ dir1 dir2 dir3

Or maybe:

mv -t z/ dir{1..3}

Brief Explanations:

  • -t option means "target". It is usually used to avoid confusion in cases involving movement of multiple files/directories.
  • Brace expansion work in the way that {1..15} will print all the numbers from 1 till 15, and {a..f} will print all alphabets from a till f.

As for me more secure way to use find

find dir/* -prune -type d -name "[a-y]" ! -name "z" -exec mv -t dir/z {} +
  • name "[a-y]" has no preceding dash - is that a typo or a syntax I don't know?
    – Izkata
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 18:03

Note: this is not the cleanest way to do it (see shivams' answer for that), and just works if you only have the directories a-z inside dir.

I've always used the easier to remember

mv * z

which, of course, complains that

mv: cannot move ‘z’ to a subdirectory of itself, ‘z/z’

but otherwise does what you want.

This applies (at least) to GNU coreutils

  • To avoid complaints: mv [!z] z Commented May 18, 2015 at 21:13

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