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Move files by text edit

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Organising large amounts of files via the command line is cumbersome. The standard UNIX mv command can rename a file or directory, or move items in bulk, but the two operations cannot be combined. Furthermore, editing capabilities on the command line offered by most shells are too limited to comfortably alter long file or directory names, or add characters from foreign character sets. Names containing spaces or other special characters should be quoted or escaped, adding yet another layer of annoyance.

Larry Wall’s rename complements mv with the ability to rename in bulk, but being based on regular expressions it is suited mostly for file sets that share a common naming structure. It also requires fluidity in Perl’s regular expression syntax to be useful, which sets a very high bar for entry.

Mvi (which can be seen to be either a contraction of “mv vi” or a more general abbreviation of “move interactively”) aims to simplify bulk renames of files and directories by opening the directory listing in a text editor, thus providing a powerful interface for editing destination paths. Names can be changed by editing the lines in place while preserving order. Upon save and exit mvi will show a list of scheduled rename operations and ask for confirmation before performing the changes on disk.

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