I have a folder filled with 100 log files, some of them have data, some dont. I have a script that picks out the files with the data and have the names saved in a text file named "goodfiles.txt" I would like to know how i can read the files in the text file and move them to another folder. I have tried this:
cat /root/testing2/goodfiles.txt | xargs mv -f /root/testing2/moved/
but it gives me an error saying

mv: Target (log1508.log) must be a directory in order to move
mv: directories or multiple files to it.

can someone please help me?

  • It looks like you're confusing the -f and -t options of GNU mv Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 13:21

3 Answers 3


This is a slightly different, but conceptually simple approach (avoiding pipes):

for fileName in `cat goodfiles.txt`; do mv $fileName /root/testing2/moved/; done
  • Thank you! this worked perfectly! Commented Oct 19, 2019 at 14:25

I think it helps to remember that you can change the part that xargs replaces using the --replace option and specify the replacement string. Otherwise it appends the line on the end.

I was able to do roughly the same with

cat filelist |xargs --replace='{}' mv {} ./targetdir/

For you maybe try

cat /root/testing2/goodfiles.txt |xargs --replace '{}' /root/testing2/moved
  • I tried that but it gave me this error: xargs: illegal option -- - Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 16:32
  • Can you put the specific command you tried?
    – Woodsman
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 0:57

It looks like you're confusing the -f option of GNU mv with the -t option, which is what you want here in order to move multiple sources to a single target with xargs


Note that plain xargs breaks input into whitespace delimited arguments, so your command would break if any of the filenames contains whitespace. Also it is a UUOC.


xargs -d'\n' mv -t /root/testing2/moved/ </root/testing2/goodfiles.txt

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