I have a file named file1.txtcontaining file names like below :


I want to copy the files listed in file1.txt to another folder. What is the UNIX command to use? (the shell is ksh88 if that's relevant).

  • Are the file names in file1.txt using full paths? or are all of these files in the same directory? – Eric Aug 30 '13 at 21:36

Your format assumes that no file names have newlines in them, which is not ideal (newlines are legal in filenames). You also don't mention your shell. However, in a POSIX shell, you can do this:

while IFS= read -r file; do
    cp -- "$file" new_dir/
done < file

In bash, it might be faster to pass them all to cp in one go, however (as long as you're below ARG_MAX):


while IFS= read -r file; do
    files+=( "$file" )
done < file

cp -- "${files[@]}" new_dir/

...or, the same thing, if you have bash4+:

mapfile -t files < file
cp -- "${files[@]}" new_dir/
  • I typed your lines in a file and execute that file.I think my shell is bash but your suggestion didn't work. – Crystal Aug 30 '13 at 14:55
  • mapfile -t files < filecp "${files[@]}" /ettdd/SPECS/tpl/TEMP_TFRW2 – Crystal Aug 30 '13 at 14:56
  • Sorry I meant to say :mapfile -t files < /ettdd/SPECS/tpl/list_TFRW2.txt cp "${files[@]}" /ettdd/SPECS/tpl/TEMP_TFRW2 – Crystal Aug 30 '13 at 14:56
  • @Crystal What is the output of echo "$0"; echo "$BASH_VERSION"? Try the first example instead, it should work in any POSIX shell. The mapfile example will only work on bash4+. What error messages are printed? – Chris Down Aug 30 '13 at 15:09
  • I save your first set of codes in a file called cpNmv and execute it. The error is : cpNmv: syntax error at line 5 : `done' unexpected – Crystal Aug 30 '13 at 15:46

With GNU tools:

xargs -rd '\n' cp -t /dest/folder -- < file1.txt


sed 's/./\\&/g' < file1.txt | xargs sh -c 'exec cp -- "$@" /dest/dir' sh
  • For the above suggestion using sed, where should I use file1.txt? – Crystal Aug 30 '13 at 16:26

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