Merge directories in Mac OS X

Aug 12, 2010 - 5 Comments

You can quickly merge any two directories within Mac OS X by using the command line tool ditto. Launch the Terminal and use the following syntax:

ditto directory1 directory2

If a directory already exists at the destination (directory2) then the contents of the source (directory1) will be merged with the contents of the destination (destination2). So I want to merge pictures from “August 2010″ into “Summer 2010″ I will use:

ditto "August 2010" "Summer 2010"

The man page for ditto describes further:

In its first form, ditto copies one or more source files or directories
to a destination directory. If the destination directory does not exist
it will be created before the first source is copied. If the destination
directory already exists then the source directories are merged with the
previous contents of the destination.

If you’re not familiar with the command line, you may want to just use the GUI to perform this type of action.

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Posted by: Manish Patel in Command Line, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

5 Comments

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  1. Roger says:

    really? REALLY???
    Mac users usually aren’t a tech savvy as Windows users and definitely not as Linux users, both of which (OSs) do this SIMPLY. Now I have to explain to a customer they must use the terminal (which they didn’t know existed) and this long syntax for the directories to do this. Why this is not possible from Apples amazing OS GUI interface is beyond me. It is one thing to not do something as default, but for it to not do it all…? Really?

    • Matt says:

      You can just drag the items over from the GUI, and in OS X Lion you have more options too.

      • David says:

        You can’t just drag the items using the GUI, this will do a replace. Even using the Option key will only merge if files of the same name do not exist in the source and target folder. So Beware! Bottom line is that Apple is miles behind Microsoft on this one. Sad but true. Apple really need to fix this.

        • steve says:

          you missed the point.

          I believe Matt meant you can drag and drop two directories into the terminal instead of typing out ‘directory 1 directory 2″. so one would open a terminal. $ [type] ditto [drag and drop directory 1] space [drag and drop directory 2]

          • Matthew says:

            Ditto what Steve said.

            1) Open terminal and type: ditto

            2) Drag the source folder from finder into the terminal window.

            3) Next, drag the destination folder from finder into the terminal window.

            4) Press enter.

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