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MV(1) General Commands Manual MV(1)

mvmove files

mv [-fiv] source target

mv [-fiv] source ... directory

In its first form, the mv utility moves the file named by the source operand to the destination path named by the target operand. This form is assumed when the last operand does not name an already existing directory.

In its second form, mv moves each file named by a source operand to the destination specified by the directory operand. It is an error if the directory does not exist. The destination path for each source operand is the pathname produced by the concatenation of the directory operand, a slash, and the final pathname component of the named file.

In both forms, a source operand is skipped with an error message when the respective destination path is a non-empty directory, or when the source is a non-directory file but the destination path is a directory, or vice versa.

The options are as follows:

Do not prompt for confirmation before overwriting the destination path. The -f option overrides any previous -i options.
Causes mv to write a prompt to standard error before moving a file that would overwrite an existing file. If the response from the standard input begins with the character “y”, the move is attempted. The -i option overrides any previous -f options.
Display the source and destination after each move.

The mv utility moves symbolic links, not the files referenced by the links.

If the destination path does not have a mode which permits writing, mv prompts the user for confirmation as specified for the -i option.

Should the rename(2) call fail because the source and destination are on different file systems, mv will imitate cp(1) and rm(1) to accomplish the move. The effect is equivalent to:

$ rm -df -- destination_path && \
    cp -PRp -- source destination_path && \
    rm -rf -- source

The mv utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.

Rename file foo to bar, overwriting bar if it already exists:

$ mv -f foo bar

Either of these commands will rename the file -f to bar, prompting for confirmation if bar already exists:

$ mv -i -- -f bar
$ mv -i ./-f bar

cp(1), rm(1), rename(2), symlink(7)

The mv utility is compliant with the IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (“POSIX.1”) specification.

The flag [-v] is an extension to that specification.

A mv command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.

In the second synopsis form, incompatible file types in source and directory cause partial moves. For example, if f and g are non-directory files and d and d/f are directories, the command

$ mv f g d

will print an error message, leave f where it is, move g to d/g and return a non-zero exit status.

November 14, 2018 OpenBSD-current