Copy files from one directory into an existing directory


In bash I need to do this:

  1. take all files in a directory

  2. copy them into an existing directory

How do I do this? I tried cp -r t1 t2 (both t1 and t2 are existing directories, t1 has files in it) but it created a directory called t1 inside t2, I don't want that, I need the files in t1 to go directly inside t2. How do I do this?

10/20/2017 4:28:47 PM

If you want to copy something from one directory into the current directory, do this:

cp dir1/* .

This assumes you're not trying to copy hidden files.


cp dir1/* dir2

Or if you have directories inside dir1 that you'd want to copy as well

cp -r dir1/* dir2

Assuming t1 is the folder with files in it, and t2 is the empty directory. What you want is something like this:

sudo cp -R t1/* t2/

Bear in mind, for the first example, t1 and t2 have to be the full paths, or relative paths (based on where you are). If you want, you can navigate to the empty folder (t2) and do this:

sudo cp -R t1/* ./

Or you can navigate to the folder with files (t1) and do this:

sudo cp -R ./* t2/

Note: The * sign (or wildcard) stands for all files and folders. The -R flag means recursively (everything inside everything).


cp -R t1/ t2

The trailing slash on the source directory changes the semantics slightly, so it copies the contents but not the directory itself. It also avoids the problems with globbing and invisible files that Bertrand's answer has (copying t1/* misses invisible files, copying `t1/* t1/.*' copies t1/. and t1/.., which you don't want).


Depending on some details you might need to do something like this:

case "$TARG" in
    /*) p=$r;;
    *) p="";;
cd "$SRC" && cp -r . "$p/$TARG"
cd "$r"

... this basically changes to the SRC directory and copies it to the target, then returns back to whence ever you started.

The extra fussing is to handle relative or absolute targets.

(This doesn't rely on subtle semantics of the cp command itself ... about how it handles source specifications with or without a trailing / ... since I'm not sure those are stable, portable, and reliable beyond just GNU cp and I don't know if they'll continue to be so in the future).


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