I'd like to merge the content of these folders with a command line.

├── folder1
│   │ file.txt
├── folder2
│   │ file.txt
    │ file.txt

How can I do this ?

  • Meaning all 3 files are copied somewhere else with their original directory names as prefixes or???
    – Jeff Schaller
    May 20, 2016 at 9:36
  • you mean you want to merge all .txt files into one directory ?
    – Rahul
    May 20, 2016 at 9:49
  • yes, merge all .txt file into one directory. May 20, 2016 at 9:59
  • If any of the existing answers solves your problem, please consider accepting it via the checkmark. Thank you!
    – Jeff Schaller
    Apr 23, 2017 at 12:45

2 Answers 2


Finally I can do this with cp and its --backup flag.

cp --backup=numbered */*.txt new_directory/
  • you have asked for merging content of all *.txt files into one
    – Rahul
    May 20, 2016 at 10:10
  • I've asked for merging content of folders (aka folder1, folder2, folder3) into on directory May 20, 2016 at 10:24
  • you should have asked for "files of folder{1..3}"
    – Rahul
    May 20, 2016 at 10:26

The following command-line loop will copy the (top-level) contents of every folder named "folder*" in your current directory into a directory named "new_directory". The /* glob will, by default, not match "dot files"; use shopt -s dotglob if you want to change that behavior. If the same (base) filename already exists in new_directory, then it prefixes the destination file with the originating folder (and an underscore), in order to make it unique.

All in one line:

for f in folder*/*; do [ ! -e "new_directory/$(basename "$f")" ] && { cp "$f" new_directory/; continue; }; [ -e "new_directory/$(basename "$f")" ] && cp "$f" "new_directory/$(dirname "$f")_$(basename "$f")"; done

Broken out for readability:

for f in folder*/*
  [ ! -e "new_directory/$(basename "$f")" ] && { cp "$f" new_directory/; continue; }
  [ -e "new_directory/$(basename "$f")" ] && cp "$f" "new_directory/$(dirname "$f")_$(basename "$f")"

If you intent instead to move the files from their original locations, simply change the cp's to mv's.

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