I want to rename multiple files (file1 ... filen to file1_renamed ... filen_renamed) using command find command:

find . -type f -name 'file*' -exec mv filename='{}' $(basename $filename)_renamed ';'

But getting this error:

mv: cannot stat ‘filename=./file1’: No such file or directory

This not working because filename is not interpreted as shell variable.


The following is a direct fix of your approach:

find . -type f -name 'file*' -exec sh -c 'x="{}"; mv "$x" "${x}_renamed"' \;

However, this is very expensive if you have lots of matching files, because you start a fresh shell (that executes a mv) for each match. And if you have funny characters in any file name, this will explode. A more efficient and secure approach is this:

find . -type f -name 'file*' -print0 | xargs --null -I{} mv {} {}_renamed

It also has the benefit of working with strangely named files. If find supports it, this can be reduced to

find . -type f -name 'file*' -exec mv {} {}_renamed \;

The xargs version is useful when not using {}, as in

find .... -print0 | xargs --null rm

Here rm gets called once (or with lots of files several times), but not for every file.

I removed the basename in you question, because it is probably wrong: you would move foo/bar/file8 to file8_renamed, not foo/bar/file8_renamed.

Edits (as suggested in comments):

  • Added shortened find without xargs
  • Added security sticker
| improve this answer | |
  • In the case the x is useless: find . -type f -name 'file*' -exec mv {} "{}_renamed" \; xargs version have the same efficiency like the first example/ – Costas Sep 5 '15 at 11:09
  • The x is there only to directly fix the asker's approach. – Thomas Erker Sep 5 '15 at 11:17
  • 3
    (1) It is very dangerous to use {} directly in a shell (sh -c "…") command — you should always pass it in as an argument.  (2) Not all versions of find support the {}_renamed construct.  (3) I don't understand your statement that xargs is useful for removing files (in contrast to renaming them). – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Sep 5 '15 at 12:53
  • @G-Man: The difference with xargs is not mv vs. rm, but use of {} vs. without. The former is similar to mv file1 file1_renamed; mv file2 file2_renamed while the latter is rm file1 file2. – Thomas Erker Sep 5 '15 at 13:02
  • 1
    and if you then wanted to change the _renamed files back to their original names, how would you do that? – mcmillab Sep 20 '18 at 2:45

After trying the first answer and toying with it a little I found that it can be done slightly shorter and less complex using -execdir:

find . -type f -name 'file*' -execdir mv {} {}_renamed ';'

Looks like it should also do exactly what you need.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    With find implementations that support -execdir and {} not as a whole, it's also the safest. You may want to add a -i to mv though (and -T if your mv supports it) – Stéphane Chazelas Feb 9 '16 at 17:33
  • 1
    @StéphaneChazelas even better, instead of relying on mv for a prompt, or in addition to it, you can (no doubt depending on whether your implementation of find supports it) also use -okdir which will output the command to be executed before executing it. – Matijs Feb 9 '16 at 19:25
  • Worth mentioning that -depth is also a good idea if you are going to also touch directory names. – Ciro Santilli 郝海东冠状病六四事件法轮功 Jan 12 '19 at 21:24
  • Argh, just found that -execdir does have one very annoying downside, find refuses to do anything if PATH contains any relative paths... askubuntu.com/questions/621132/… find: The relative path XXX is included in the PATH environment – Ciro Santilli 郝海东冠状病六四事件法轮功 Jan 13 '19 at 14:17

Another approach is to use a while read loop over find output. This allows access to each file name as a variable that can be manipulated without having to worry about additional cost / potential security issues of spawning a separate sh -c process using find's -exec option.

find . -type f -name 'file*' |
    while IFS= read file_name; do
        mv "$file_name" "${file_name##*\/}_renamed"

And if the shell being used supports the -d option to specify a read delimiter you can support strangely named files (e.g. with a newline) using the following:

find . -type f -name 'file*' -print0 |
    while IFS= read -d '' file_name; do
        mv "$file_name" "${file_name##*\/}_renamed"
| improve this answer | |

I want to expand on the first answer and note that this won't work to append to the filename since the ./ path prefix is present in the filename argument.

Modifying Thomas Erker answer, I find this one a more generic approach

find . -name PATTERN -printf "%f\0" | xargs --null -I{} mv {} "prefix {} suffix"

xargs options:

--null Indicates that each argument passed through stdin ends with a null character (\0). This way the filename can contain spaces, otherwise each word will be threated as a different parameter for the mv command.

-I replace-str Every ocurrence of replace-str will be replaced with the argument read from stdin. So, you may change it for other string if you need it so.

| improve this answer | |
  • Why do the pringf "%f\0" instead of a print0? – slm Jul 8 '18 at 14:21
  • 2
    @sim, because -print0 will produce ./ prefixes if PATTERN contains shell metacharacters which get in the way when renaming to something that prefixes the original names. (e.g. rename 0 - foo.txt to 00 - foo.txt, 1 - bar.txt to 01 - bar.txt etc.) – das-g Aug 7 '18 at 14:49

I was able to do something similar with the for, find, and mv.

for i in $(find . -name 'config.yml'); do mv $i $i.bak; done

This finds all the config.yml files and renames them to config.yml.bak

| improve this answer | |
  • this has the advantage of being able to use variable expansion eg. ${i:r}. Nice answer. – Salami Aug 10 '19 at 18:46
  • Yeah, you can pretty much put any expression in the for and perform a bulk operation. – Varun Risbud Aug 13 '19 at 17:20

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