UNIX Command To Rename A File

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How do I rename a file in UNIX using command line options?

The mv is a Unix command that renames one or more files or directories. The original filename or directory name is no longer accessible. Write permission is required on all directories and files being modified. Use the mv command to:

  • Moves a file (i.e. gives it a different name).
  • Rename a file.

mv command syntax

You need to use the mv command to rename a file as follows:

mv old-file-name new-file-name
mv file1 file2
mv source target
mv [options] source target


Open the terminal (bash shell prompt) and type the following command to list file names:

ls -l

In this example, rename a file called data.txt to letters.txt, enter:

mv data.txt letters.txt
ls -l letters.txt

File is renamed so the following command will display an error on screen:

ls -l data.txt


ls: cannot access data.txt: No such file or directory

The following would rename a file called foo to bar, while keeping it in the current directory:

mv foo bar

Rename a directory/folder Unix command

The following would rename a directory (folder) called dir1 to dir2, while keeping it in the current directory:

mv dir1 dir2

Move a file/folder to an existing directory

The following would move a file named resume.txt, without changing its name, to an existing subdirectory called /home/nixcraft/Documents/

mv resume.txt /home/nixcraft/Documents/
## verify new file location with ls -l command ##
ls -l /home/nixcraft/Documents/
Suggested Readings:

Type the following command to read mv command man page:

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

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6 comment

  1. Hi,
    How can i read a multiples files from MF/Cobol, whose inside programs is assigned to read “file1”.
    i am getting: 201108251343file1
    Is there an routine to added the 3 files into one file1.
    Many Thanks.

  2. Please allow a question that is surely easy. A directory has many files with names resembling DSC01234.JPG, DSC01235.JPG, DSC01236.JPG, etc. Is there a one-line command that will rename all in the directory to DSC11234.JPG, DSC11235.JPG, DSC11236.JPG, etc? That is, “DSC0” becomes “DSC1”?

    Thank you.

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