Copy - cp


To preserve attributes:

cp -a


Copy multiple files from a different directory:

cp ./path/to/folder/{march,april,may} .

dot Files and Folder

To copy dot files from a folder to somewhere else:

From Recursively copying hidden files - Linux:

find -H /path/to/toplevel/dir/ -maxdepth 1 -name '.*' -a \( -type d -o -type f -o -type l \) -exec cp -a '{}' /path/to/destination/dir/ \;
  • -H will cause find not to follow symlinks (except if the actual toplevel directory name you gave it is a symlink; that it will follow).

  • /path/to/toplevel/dir/ is, obviously, supposed to be replaced by you with the path do the directory which hosts the settings files and directories you want to back up.

  • -maxdepth 1 will stop find from recursively descending into any directories whose name starts with a dot. We don’t need it to recurse, cp will do that for us, we just need the names at this level.

  • -name '.*' tells find that we want all names that start with a dot. This won’t work correctly if the environment variable POSIXLY_CORRECT is set, but it rarely (if ever) is. This is the first match condition we have specified so far.

  • a \( ....... \) is an and followed by a more complex condition in parentheses (I’ve used ….. to replace it, it’s explained below). We need to escape the parentheses since they’ll otherwise be (mis)interpreted by the shell, hence the backslash in front of them.

  • -type d -o -type f -o -type l are three conditions with an or between them. -type d matches directories, -type f matches regular files, and -type l matches symlinks. You can select what you want - for example, if you don’t want to backup settings directories, omit -type d (and the -o right behind it, obviously).

  • -exec ..... \; tells find to execute a command every time a match is encountered. The end of the command is marked by a semicolon, which we again need to escape with a backslash to avoid shell interpretation. Within that command line, you need to use {} where you want the name of the currently encountered match to end up. Since shells might also misinterpret the curly braces, you should place them in apostrophes, as in '{}'. The command we want to execute in this case is cp -a '{}' /path/to/destination/dir/ (-a means archive, which recurses in subdirectories, copies symlinks as links, and preserves permissions and extended attributes, and /path/to/destination/dir/ is obviously the name of the destination directory - replace it).

So, in plain English, this find command line says this:

Start at /path/to/toplevel/dir/. Do not descend into any subdirectories. Find all directories, files and symlinks whose name starts with a dot. For each of those you have found found, copy it to /path/to/destination/dir/ preserving nature, permissions, and extended attributes.


For copying and moving directories you can use the cp and mv commands just like you use them with files. Yeah, I know. If you’ve already tried to copy a directory with cp, you’ve probably noticed that cp just complains at you. Probably it says something like cp: omitting directory. You see, the cp command wants you to use the -r option if you want to copy a directory with its contents.

The -r means copy recursively:

cp -r dir1 dir2