How to Rename a File in Linux: A Step-by-Step Guide

Renaming a file in Linux might seem daunting to new users, but it’s actually quite simple once you get the hang of it. The process involves using the command line, but don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds! All you need to do is open a terminal window and type in a command that tells the computer which file you want to rename and what you want to rename it to. Sounds easy, right? Let’s dive into the step-by-step tutorial to get a clearer picture of how it’s done.

Step by Step Tutorial to Rename a File in Linux

Before we jump into the steps, let’s understand what we’re doing here. Renaming a file in Linux involves the ‘mv’ command, which stands for ‘move’. We use this command to move a file from its current name to a new name. In essence, we’re ‘moving’ the file to a new name.

Step 1: Open the Terminal

First things first, you need to open the terminal. You can do this by searching for ‘terminal’ in your applications menu or by using a keyboard shortcut, often Ctrl+Alt+T.

Opening the terminal is your gateway to using the command line interface, which is where all the magic happens in Linux. It might look plain, but it’s incredibly powerful.

Step 2: Navigate to the Directory

Next, navigate to the directory where the file you want to rename is located. You can do this by using the ‘cd’ command followed by the path to the directory.

Navigating to the right directory is crucial because Linux commands are context-sensitive. If you’re not in the right place, you won’t be able to rename the file you want.

Step 3: Use the ‘mv’ Command

Now, use the ‘mv’ command followed by the current name of the file and then the new name you want to give it. It’s formatted like this: mv oldname.ext newname.ext.

Using the ‘mv’ command is the key part of this process. Remember, the ‘mv’ command is short for ‘move’, but when you’re moving a file to a new name in the same directory, you’re essentially renaming it.

After you complete these steps, the file will be renamed to the new name you specified. Congratulations, you’ve successfully renamed a file in Linux!

Tips for Renaming Files in Linux

  • Always make sure you’re in the correct directory before using the ‘mv’ command.
  • Double-check the spelling of your file names to avoid any errors.
  • If your file name has spaces, enclose it in quotes: mv “old name.ext” “new name.ext”.
  • You can rename multiple files at once using wildcards (*).
  • Remember that Linux is case-sensitive, so ‘File.txt’ and ‘file.txt’ are considered two different files.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I accidentally rename a file to the wrong name?

Don’t worry, you can simply use the ‘mv’ command again to rename it to the correct name.

Can I undo a rename operation?

Linux doesn’t have an ‘undo’ command like you might find in a graphical user interface (GUI). However, if you remember the original name, you can just rename it back.

How do I rename a file with spaces in the name?

Enclose the file name in quotes, like this: mv “old file name.ext” “new file name.ext”.

Is there a way to rename files without the command line?

Yes, most graphical file managers in Linux allow you to rename files by right-clicking and selecting ‘rename’ or by pressing the F2 key.

Can I rename a directory using the ‘mv’ command?

Absolutely! Directories are treated the same way as files when it comes to the ‘mv’ command.


  1. Open the terminal.
  2. Navigate to the directory.
  3. Use the ‘mv’ command to rename the file.


Renaming a file in Linux is a basic but essential skill to master, particularly if you’re looking to become proficient in using the command line interface. It’s one of those tasks that can seem intimidating at first, but with a little practice, it becomes second nature. Whether you’re organizing your files, scripting, or managing a server, knowing how to rename a file quickly and efficiently can save you a great deal of time and frustration.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the command line and make it your friend. The more comfortable you become with it, the more powerful and efficient your Linux experience will be. And remember, if you ever get stuck or something doesn’t work as expected, the Linux community is incredibly supportive and resourceful. There’s always someone willing to help you out.

So go ahead, open that terminal, and start renaming files like a pro. Happy computing!