How do I find all files in a folder and its subfolders terminated with 3 digits and move them to a new place while keeping the directory structure?

Alternatively, how can I find all files whose names don't end with three digits?

  • By “keeping the structure” do yo mean moving into subdirectories, recursively? Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:06
  • 1
    Unless I'm missing something, all files matching or not matching a pattern = all files. Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:14
  • @IncnisMrsi Yes, keep the directory tree, e.g. move /old/a/a001 to /new/a/a001, /old/a/b/b012 to /new/a/b/b012
    – wsdzbm
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:18
  • @don_crissti hehe... two independent cases they are. Maybe it's clearer to say "matching (or not matching)". In fact, what I wanna do now is to remove all files not ended with 3 digits, the same effect as moving all files ended with 3 digits and deleting all old files.
    – wsdzbm
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:21
  • unix.stackexchange.com/q/2161 Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


Much cleaner solution, based on an answer linked by @don_crissti. (Rsync filter: copying one pattern only)

rsync -av --remove-source-files --include='*[0-9][0-9][0-9]' --include='*/' --exclude '*' /tmp/oldstruct/ /tmp/newstruct/

And the negation:

rsync -av --remove-source-files --exclude='*[0-9][0-9][0-9]' /tmp/oldstruct /tmp/newstruct/

Original answer:

This should do it. It will find any file in the structure you cd into ending in 3 digits, create a destination folder in the /tmp/newstruct, and move the file.

cd /tmp/oldstruct
find ./ -type f -regextype posix-basic -regex '.*[0-9]\\{3\\}' | 
  while read i; do 
    dest=/tmp/newstruct/$(dirname $i)
    mkdir -vp $dest
    mv -v $i $dest

I'd recommend prepending the mkdir and mv with echo before you actually run it, just to ensure it does what you're expecting.

To negate the 3 digits, simply place do ! -regex instead.

Here is a simpler method which relies upon rsync. However, it does call rsync for every file it finds, so definitely not very efficient.

find ./ -type f -regextype posix-basic -regex '.*[0-9]\{3\}' --exec rsync -av --remove-source-files --relative {} /tmp/newstruct
  • The indent for while..done is necessary?
    – wsdzbm
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:25
  • For this setup, yes. Although you might be able to find something that won't require loops by using a combination of --include and --exclude flags with rsync.
    – alienth
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:29
  • $ls -R .: a001 aaa b ./b: b001 bbb c ./b/c: c001 ccc $ find ./ -regextype posix-basic ! -regex '.*[0-9]\{3\}' -print | while read i; do d=/tmp/newstruct/$(dirname $i); mkdir -vp $d; mv -v $i $d; done mkdir: created directory ‘/tmp/newstruct’ mv: cannot move ‘./’ to ‘/tmp/newstruct/./.’: Device or resource busy ‘./b’ -> ‘/tmp/newstruct/./b’ mv: cannot stat ‘./b/c’: No such file or directory mv: cannot stat ‘./b/c/ccc’: No such file or directory mv: cannot stat ‘./b/bbb’: No such file or directory ‘./aaa’ -> ‘/tmp/newstruct/./aaa’
    – wsdzbm
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:42
  • Ah, since you're negating, it's trying to move the directories as well. Add -type f to the find params.
    – alienth
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:44
  • I didn't notice the '!' ...... Perfect now!!!
    – wsdzbm
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 19:47

You can do this with bash :

## Make ** match all files and 0 or more dirs and subdirs
shopt globstar
## Iterate over all files and directories
for f in **; do 
    ## Get the name of the parent directory of the 
    ## current file/directory
    dir=$(dirname "$f"); 
    ## If this file/dir ends with 3 digits and is a file
    if [[ $f =~ [0-9]{3} ]] && [ -f "$f" ]; then 
        ## Create the target directory
        mkdir -p targetdir1/"$dir"
        ## Move the file
        mv "$f" targetdir1/"$f" 
        ## If this is a file but doesn't end with 3 digits
        [ -f "$f" ] && 
        ## Make the target dir
        mkdir -p targetdir2/"$dir" &&
        ## Move the file
        mv "$f" targetdir2/"$f" 
  • @don_crissti ah, yes, you may well be right. The OP also said that all files are in a folder so I'm not sure what they want. And thanks, second command fixed.
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 11:14
  • No problem. I had initially wanted to vote to close it as a dupe of the other one but due to the fact the question is quite confusing I ended up leaving just a comment (although it's almost a duplicate imo). Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 11:18

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