When to Use the Move Files by Prefix” Bash Command

January 7, 2024

When managing files in a directory, there are occasions where you might have a collection of files prefixed with a common identifier, such as filename - disk x.” In such cases, organizing these files into separate folders based on this shared prefix can streamline file management.

Use Case Scenarios:

1. Organizing Batch Files:

2. Grouping Files by Category:

3. Streamlining File Management:

How the Command Works:

The command is a simple yet powerful one-liner that uses a Bash for loop to iterate through files in a directory. For each file, it extracts the prefix using the awk command, creates a directory with that prefix (if it doesn’t exist), and then moves the file into that newly created folder.

Command Breakdown:

cd into your directory, preferably a copy of the directory incase the command doesn’t meet your expectations.

for file in *; do prefix=$(echo "$file" | awk -F ' - ' '{print $1}') mkdir -p "$prefix" mv "$file" "$prefix/" done


for file in *; do prefix=$(echo "$file" | awk -F ' - ' '{print $1}'); mkdir -p "$prefix"; mv "$file" "$prefix/"; done

Use with Caution: Ensure the files within the directory follow a consistent naming pattern with a shared prefix. Review the command and customize it based on the specific prefix or delimiter used in your filenames. This command is efficient for quickly organizing files into folders based on a shared prefix, aiding in better file management and organization.