How to Create Directories in Linux (mkdir Command)

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In Linux systems, you can create new directories either from the command line or with the help of your desktop’s file manager. The command that allows you to create directories (also known as folders) is mkdir.

This tutorial covers the basics of using the mkdir command, including everyday examples.

Linux mkdir Command Syntax

The syntax for the Linux mkdir command is as follows:

mkdir [OPTION] [DIRECTORY]

The command can take one or more directory names as its arguments.

To create a directory with the mkdir command you need to have write permissions on the parent directory. Otherwise, you will receive a permission denied error.

How to Create a New Directory

To create a directory in Linux pass the name of the directory as the argument to the mkdir command. For example, to create a new directory newdir you would run the following command:

mkdir newdir

You can verify that the directory was created by listing the contents using the ls command:

ls -l
drwxrwxr-x 2 username username 4096 Jan 20 03:39 newdir

When providing only the directory name, without the full path, it will be created in the current working directory.

The current working directory is the directory from which you are running the commands. To change the current working directory, use the cd command.

To create a directory in another location you’ll need to provide the absolute or relative file path to the parent directory. For example, to create a new directory in the /tmp directory you would type:

mkdir /tmp/newdir

If you try to create a directory in a parent directory where the user does not have sufficient permissions you will receive Permission denied error:

mkdir /root/newdir
mkdir: cannot create directory '/root/newdir': Permission denied

The -v (--verbose) option tells mkdir to print a message for each created directory.

How to Create Parent Directories

A parent directory is a directory that is above another directory in the directory tree. To create parent directories use the -p option.

Let’s say you want to create a directory /home/linuxize/Music/Rock/Gothic:

mkdir /home/linuxize/Music/Rock/Gothic

If any of the parent directories don’t exist you will get an error as shown below:

mkdir: cannot create directory '/home/linuxize/Music/Rock/Gothic': No such file or directory

Instead of creating all missing parent directories one by one, use the -p option:

mkdir -p /home/linuxize/Music/Rock/Gothic

When mkdir is invoked with the -p option, it will create the directory only if it doesn’t exist.

If you try to create a directory that already exists and the -p option is not provided, mkdir will print File exists error:

mkdir newdir
mkdir: cannot create directory 'newdir': File exists

How to Set Permissions when Creating a Directory

To create a directory with specified permissions, use the -m (-mode) option. The syntax for assigning permissions is the same as with the chmod command.

In the following example, the new directory will have 700 permissions which means that only the user who created the directory will be able to access it:

mkdir -m 700 newdir

If the -m option is not passed to mdkir the newly created directories will have 775 or 755 permissions, depending on the umask value.

How to Create Multiple Directories

To create multiple directories, specify the directories’ names as the command arguments, separated by space:

mkdir dir1 dir2 dir3

The mkdir command also allows you to create a complex directory tree with one command:

mkdir -p Music/{Jazz/Blues,Folk,Disco,Rock/{Gothic,Punk,Progressive},Classical/Baroque/Early}

The command above will create the following directory tree:

Music/
|-- Classical
|   `-- Baroque
|       `-- Early
|-- Disco
|-- Folk
|-- Jazz
|   `-- Blues
`-- Rock
    |-- Gothic
    |-- Progressive
    `-- Punk

Conclusion

The mkdir command in Linux is used to create new directories.

For more information about mkdir, visit the mkdir man page.

If you have questions feel free to leave a comment below.