How to copy files by extension recursively

If you are wondering how to copy files of a specific extension (e.g., .txt, .php, .java) recursively, the following guide can help you. By copying files recursively, I mean that you copy files located in the current directory as well as its sub-directories, to another location which has the same directory structure.

Your first (unsuccessful) attempt may be using cp command with "-r" option.

$ cp -r *.txt /path/to/destdir

However, the above command will copy only *.txt files in the top-level current directory, but not in any of its sub-directories. So this is not the right way to do it.

A correct way to copy files recursively is to use cpio command, which is a Linux tool that copies files to and from archives. The command below demonstrates how to copy .txt files from one directory tree to another.

$ find /path/to/srcdir -name '*.txt' | cpio -pdm /path/to/destdir
  • "-p" option enables a recursive copy operation.
  • "-d" option creates leading directories where needed.
  • "-m" option retains previous file modification times while files are copied to the destination location.

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