I'm trying to copy only folders with .mp3 files in them to another device. And only the .mp3s in them. The structure looks like this:

Band/Year - Album/*.flac
Band/Year - Album/*.txt
Band/Year - Album/*.mp3
Band/Year - Album/covers
Band/Year - Album/covers/*.jpg

I've already read a shitton of manuals and forums but can't resolve my problem. No matter what I do, no matter how I'm trying to formulate what I want to include in copying, since it's excluded - it's gone even

--exclude=* --include=*

won't copy anything. I tested it on another directory, even without any, dammit.

EDIT: List of what I tried to no avail:

rsync -rnv --exclude=** --include=*/ --include=*/*/ --include=*/*/*/ --include=*/*/*.mp3 "./Be'lakor" /media/moorindal/WALKMAN/MUSIC
rsync -rnv --exclude=** --include=*/ --include=*/*/ --include=*/*/*/ --include=**.mp3 "./Be'lakor" /media/moorindal/WALKMAN/MUSIC
rsync -rnv --exclude=** --include=*/ --include=*/* --include=**.mp3 "./Be'lakor" /media/moorindal/WALKMAN/MUSIC
rsync -rnv --exclude=*/*/* --include=**.mp3 "./Be'lakor" /media/moorindal/WALKMAN/MUSIC
rsync -rnv --exclude=*/*/*.* --include=**.mp3 "./Be'lakor" /media/moorindal/WALKMAN/MUSIC
rsync -rnv --exclude='*/*/*.*' --include='*/*/*.mp3' "./Be'lakor" /media/moorindal/WALKMAN/MUSIC
  • It would be a good idea to edit your post and give us an example of what you tried. I think you are looking for this in your rsync statement --include="*/" --include="*.mp3" --exclude="*" – fd0 Jul 23 '15 at 19:20
  • possible duplicate of Rsync filter: copying one pattern only – Gilles Jul 23 '15 at 23:16
  • @Gilles I don't think it's as complicated as your suggested duplicate – roaima Jul 23 '15 at 23:46
  • @roaima Actually on second reading I think it's more complicated. The question isn't asking to copy .mp3 files, it's asking to copy directories containing .mp3 files. That's not something rsync can do without help. – Gilles Jul 23 '15 at 23:49
  • Are all the band directories subdirectories of the current directories, or can they be nested? Do you want to copy the flac, covers etc. with the MP3 files (if not, your question is actually a duplicate of unix.stackexchange.com/questions/2161/…)? – Gilles Jul 24 '15 at 0:15

First, why --exclude=* --include=* doesn't work: because the first matching rule applies. * matches everything, so everything is excluded, and rsync doesn't even try the second rule for any file. See Rsync filter: copying one pattern only for a guide to rsync filters.

To include .mp3 files, you need

rsync -a -m --include='*.mp3' --include='*/' --exclude='*'

i.e. include MP3, include all directories (if a directory isn't included then none of the files inside it are included) and exclude everything else. The -m option (a.k.a. --prune-empty-dirs) makes rsync skip directories that don't contain any files to be copied. But that won't include other files in the same directory as the .mp3 file. For that, you need some help from the shell or other tools.

In zsh, you can match .mp3 files in subdirectories with **/*.mp3, and then use a history modifier as a glob qualifier to transform the result into the list of directories containing .mp3 files.

rsync -a **/*.mp3(:h) /destination

If you have too many directories (or more precisely, if the combined length of their names is too large), this may break the command line limit. Removing duplicates might help:

typeset -aU directories
rsync -a $directories /destination

This doesn't eliminate the risk that the command is too long, it merely reduces it. To eliminate the risk, use zargs to run rsync in batches.

autoload -U zargs
typeset -aU directories
do_rsync () { rsync -a $@ /destination; }
zargs --max-chars=$(($(get_conf ARG_MAX) - 500)) -- $directories -- do_rsync
  • 1
    Thanks! Looks like rsync -ramv --include='*.mp3' --include='*/' --exclude='*' was exactly what I needed. – Yuri Drobkov Jul 24 '15 at 9:00

You're trying to do too much with rsync. The first thing to do is to produce the list of all the MP3 files.

find Music -type f -iname '*.mp3'

Then convert the list of files into a list of the directories that contain the files.

sed 's:/[^/]*$::'

Eliminate any duplication of directories in the list.

sort -u

Now you have the list of directories you need. Feed them to rsync one at a time. Use --relative to keep the directory tree intact at the destination.

while IFS= read -r dir; do rsync --archive --relative "$dir" /mnt; done

Altogether as a single pipeline:

find Music -type f -iname '*.mp3' |
   sed 's:/[^/]*$::' |
   sort -u |
   while IFS= read -r dir; do rsync --archive --relative "$dir" /mnt; done
  • It seems to work but I kinda failed to express what I wanted. Edited the question now. I want to copy only folders with .mp3 files in them to another device. And only the .mp3s in them. And this script copies everything that is in folders with .mp3s. Could you solve this task? – Yuri Drobkov Jul 24 '15 at 8:51

You don't need to worry about --include or --exclude for this situation. Just tell rsync to copy the mp3 files that are in the well-structured known places:

cd /path/to/source
rsync -avR */*/*.mp3 /path/to/target/

Perhaps instead you want to copy all the files in directories that contain an mp3. You can do that with this little loop, again assuming the well-structured layout:

for mp3 in */*/*.mp3
    rsync --exclude covers -avR "${mp3%/*}"/ /path/to/target/
  • And what about all the files in the directories containing .mp3 files? – Gilles Jul 23 '15 at 23:49
  • @Gilles are those required too? Let me re-read. Nope, it's ambiguous. I'm reading it as the mp3s are the (only) items required, not "folders and all contents where the mp3s are present". – roaima Jul 23 '15 at 23:56
  • @Gilles answer updated to cover what I think is your interpretation. – roaima Jul 24 '15 at 0:10
  • I understood the structure to be possibly nested, but maybe not. – Gilles Jul 24 '15 at 0:14

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