Moving a File or Directory

You can move a file or directory by using the move(Path, Path, CopyOption...) method. The move fails if the target file exists, unless the REPLACE_EXISTING option is specified.

Empty directories can be moved. If the directory is not empty, the move is allowed when the directory can be moved without moving the contents of that directory. On UNIX systems, moving a directory within the same partition generally consists of renaming the directory. In that situation, this method works even when the directory contains files.

This method takes a varargs argument – the following StandardCopyOption enums are supported:

  • REPLACE_EXISTING – Performs the move even when the target file already exists. If the target is a symbolic link, the symbolic link is replaced but what it points to is not affected.
  • ATOMIC_MOVE – Performs the move as an atomic file operation. If the file system does not support an atomic move, an exception is thrown. With an ATOMIC_MOVE you can move a file into a directory and be guaranteed that any process watching the directory accesses a complete file.

The following shows how to use the move method:

import static java.nio.file.StandardCopyOption.*;
Files.move(source, target, REPLACE_EXISTING);

Though you can implement the move method on a single directory as shown, the method is most often used with the file tree recursion mechanism. For more information, see Walking the File Tree.