How can I copy directories from one location to another location that matches a pattern.

For example:

source = /media/src/
destination = /media/dest/
  • The pattern is as /b/w{2}_/w{2}/b. i.e all directories like aa_bb, fg_sd, re_ya, AA_BB, aa_Bx, Ba_BB etc.

2 Answers 2


You can use pattern matching:

cp /media/src/[[:lower:]][[:lower:]]_[[:lower:]][[:lower:]] /media/dest/

The [[:lower:]] is a POSIX defined character class which matches all characters classified as lowercase letters.

Edit: To match all characters use the character class alpha instead of lower:

cp /media/src/[[:alpha:]][[:alpha:]]_[[:alpha:]][[:alpha:]] /media/dest/
  • Sorry but it will just copy the directory with lower case, how about the directory name like aa_bb, fg_sd , re_ya, AA_BB , aa_Bx , Ba_BB
    – Nepal12
    Sep 8, 2015 at 8:59
  • @Nepal12 use alpha. see my edit
    – chaos
    Sep 8, 2015 at 9:02
  • Thanks it worked, btw can we do this using regular expression (just curious).
    – Nepal12
    Sep 8, 2015 at 9:17

Please check if this is what you wanted. It searches for directories with format xx_yy/ab_cd/&&_$$ (2char_2char) and copies the content to a new directory .

usage : ./script.sh

cat script.sh


DIRS=`ls -l $MYDIR | grep "^d" | awk '{print $9}'`
for DIR in $DIRS
       total_characters=`echo $DIR | wc -m`
       if [ $total_characters -eq 6 ]; then
                has_underscore=`echo "$DIR" | grep "_"`
                if [ "$has_underscore" != "" ]; then
                        echo "${DIR}"
                        start_string_count=`echo $DIR | awk -F '_' '{print $1}' | wc -m`
                        end_string_count=`echo $DIR | awk -F '_' '{print $2}' | wc -m`
                        echo "start_string_count => $start_string_count ; end_string_count => $end_string_count"
                        if [ $start_string_count -eq 3 ] && [ $end_string_count -eq 3 ]; then

                                cp -r $DIR $NEWDIRPATH/

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