I want to move files and folders to a folder within the same folder. The following model is an example

|-- folder1
|-- folder2
|-- file1

So the question asked is how can I move everything at once from folderN (/var/www) to folder2? Moving every file manually takes too long and it is not feasible in to long run.

Tried with

mv -v folderN/* folder2


mv folderN/* folder2 
  • Please explain what's wrong in what you're doing. Mar 6, 2018 at 15:06
  • what is the error you get with mv folder1/* folder2 ? Please update your post to include this information.
    – kemotep
    Mar 6, 2018 at 15:22
  • There is no error, but it is simply not feasible to take them one by one. which is what I would be doing if I did with mv folder1/* folder2. Mar 6, 2018 at 17:36
  • Are you trying to move all of folderN/* to folderN/folder2/, or all of folderN/folder1/* to folderN/folder2, or something else? Your question is ambiguous.
    – Useless
    Mar 6, 2018 at 19:02
  • folderN/* to folderN/folder2/, sorry, I edited the question to rectify. @Useless Mar 6, 2018 at 20:03

4 Answers 4


Another way using ls and grep -v. The -v option inverts the matching so only non matching lines are listed.

mv `ls | grep -v folder2` folder2

Note that backticks are used and not single quotes in the command.

  • This worked, it gave the error mv: cannot move 'folder2 to a subdirectory of itself, folder2/folder2 but moved everything inside the folder that was needed. Mar 7, 2018 at 8:41
  • @Schneejäger Hmm, that's odd. The grep -v folder2 should have excluded folder2 from trying to be moved and eliminated the warning.
    – Paul H.
    Mar 8, 2018 at 19:11

Move the second folder one step up, move the contents, then move the second folder back. Like so:

cd folder1
mv folder2 ..
mv * ../folder2/
mv ../folder2 .
  • I cannot move the main folder one up because it is in /var/ and I don't have sudo/root privileges. It would be /var/www but if I want to move it one up it would be /var. Mar 6, 2018 at 17:37
  • Move it to some other place where you do have write access. It's best if it's on the same file system, if possible, since that will be a lot quicker.
    – Jenny D
    Mar 7, 2018 at 9:11
  • I thought of that but I am not allowed access everywhere and have to make with what I've got, but it was solved. Mar 7, 2018 at 14:44
  • 1
    Yes, I saw and upvoted the accepted solution. This is Unix - there's almost always more than one way to do a thing, and what way you choose must depend on the particular circumstances. I'm glad you got it sorted!
    – Jenny D
    Mar 7, 2018 at 15:04

find + mv solution:

find folderN/ -mindepth 1 ! -wholename '*/folder2' -exec mv "{}" "folderN/folder2" \;

You are reporting that you are unable to move the contents of one folder to another? Is this the sequence of events you have tried?

$ ls folderN
file1 file2 folder1 folder2
$mv folderN/* folder2
mv: cannot move 'folder2 to a subdirectory of itself, `folder2/folder2`
$ls folderN/folder2
file1 file2 folder1

mv folderN/* folderN/folder2 should be the only command you need.

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