Question: ❓❓❓

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When copying a file using cp to a folder that may or may not exist, how do I get cp to create the folder if necessary? Here is what I have tried:

[root@file nutch-0.9]# cp -f urls-resume /nosuchdirectory/hi.txt
cp: cannot create regular file `/nosuchdirectory/hi.txt': No such file or directory

Good Answer: 👌👌👌

If both of the following are true:

  1. You are using the GNU version of cp (and not, for instance, the Mac version), and
  2. You are copying from some existing directory structure and you just need it recreated

then you can do this with the --parents flag of cp. From the info page (viewable at or with info cp or man cp):

     Form the name of each destination file by appending to the target
     directory a slash and the specified name of the source file.  The
     last argument given to `cp' must be the name of an existing
     directory.  For example, the command:

          cp --parents a/b/c existing_dir

     copies the file `a/b/c' to `existing_dir/a/b/c', creating any
     missing intermediate directories.


/tmp $ mkdir foo
/tmp $ mkdir foo/foo
/tmp $ touch foo/foo/foo.txt
/tmp $ mkdir bar
/tmp $ cp --parents foo/foo/foo.txt bar
/tmp $ ls bar/foo/foo


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