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cp - Man Page

copy files and directories

Examples (TL;DR)

Synopsis

cp [OPTION]... [-T] SOURCE DEST
cp [OPTION]... SOURCE... DIRECTORY
cp [OPTION]... -t DIRECTORY SOURCE...

Description

Copy SOURCE to DEST, or multiple SOURCE(s) to DIRECTORY.

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.

-a,  --archive

same as -dR --preserve=all

--attributes-only

don't copy the file data, just the attributes

--backup[=CONTROL]

make a backup of each existing destination file

-b

like --backup but does not accept an argument

--copy-contents

copy contents of special files when recursive

-d

same as --no-dereference --preserve=links

--debug

explain how a file is copied.  Implies -v

-f,  --force

if an existing destination file cannot be opened, remove it and try again (this option is ignored when the -n option is also used)

-i,  --interactive

prompt before overwrite (overrides a previous -n option)

-H

follow command-line symbolic links in SOURCE

-l,  --link

hard link files instead of copying

-L,  --dereference

always follow symbolic links in SOURCE

-n,  --no-clobber

(deprecated) silently skip existing files. See also --update

-P,  --no-dereference

never follow symbolic links in SOURCE

-p

same as --preserve=mode,ownership,timestamps

--preserve[=ATTR_LIST]

preserve the specified attributes

--no-preserve=ATTR_LIST

don't preserve the specified attributes

--parents

use full source file name under DIRECTORY

-R,  -r,  --recursive

copy directories recursively

--reflink[=WHEN]

control clone/CoW copies. See below

--remove-destination

remove each existing destination file before attempting to open it (contrast with --force)

--sparse=WHEN

control creation of sparse files. See below

--strip-trailing-slashes

remove any trailing slashes from each SOURCE argument

-s,  --symbolic-link

make symbolic links instead of copying

-S,  --suffix=SUFFIX

override the usual backup suffix

-t,  --target-directory=DIRECTORY

copy all SOURCE arguments into DIRECTORY

-T,  --no-target-directory

treat DEST as a normal file

--update[=UPDATE]

control which existing files are updated; UPDATE={all,none,none-fail,older(default)}.

-u

equivalent to --update[=older].  See below

-v,  --verbose

explain what is being done

--keep-directory-symlink

follow existing symlinks to directories

-x,  --one-file-system

stay on this file system

-Z

set SELinux security context of destination file to default type

--context[=CTX]

like -Z, or if CTX is specified then set the SELinux or SMACK security context to CTX

--help

display this help and exit

--version

output version information and exit

ATTR_LIST is a comma-separated list of attributes. Attributes are 'mode' for permissions (including any ACL and xattr permissions), 'ownership' for user and group, 'timestamps' for file timestamps, 'links' for hard links, 'context' for security context, 'xattr' for extended attributes, and 'all' for all attributes.

By default, sparse SOURCE files are detected by a crude heuristic and the corresponding DEST file is made sparse as well.  That is the behavior selected by --sparse=auto.  Specify --sparse=always to create a sparse DEST file whenever the SOURCE file contains a long enough sequence of zero bytes. Use --sparse=never to inhibit creation of sparse files.

UPDATE controls which existing files in the destination are replaced. 'all' is the default operation when an --update option is not specified, and results in all existing files in the destination being replaced. 'none' is like the --no-clobber option, in that no files in the destination are replaced, and skipped files do not induce a failure. 'none-fail' also ensures no files are replaced in the destination, but any skipped files are diagnosed and induce a failure. 'older' is the default operation when --update is specified, and results in files being replaced if they're older than the corresponding source file.

When --reflink[=always] is specified, perform a lightweight copy, where the data blocks are copied only when modified.  If this is not possible the copy fails, or if --reflink=auto is specified, fall back to a standard copy. Use --reflink=never to ensure a standard copy is performed.

The backup suffix is '~', unless set with --suffix or SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX. The version control method may be selected via the --backup option or through the VERSION_CONTROL environment variable.  Here are the values:

none, off

never make backups (even if --backup is given)

numbered, t

make numbered backups

existing, nil

numbered if numbered backups exist, simple otherwise

simple, never

always make simple backups

As a special case, cp makes a backup of SOURCE when the force and backup options are given and SOURCE and DEST are the same name for an existing, regular file.

Author

Written by Torbjorn Granlund, David MacKenzie, and Jim Meyering.

Reporting Bugs

GNU coreutils online help: <https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/>
Report any translation bugs to <https://translationproject.org/team/>

See Also

install(1)

Full documentation <https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/cp>
or available locally via: info '(coreutils) cp invocation'

Referenced By

acl(5), ch-fromhost(1), ch-image(1), clifm(1), cpdup(1), cpuset(7), dccp(1), e2image(8), enca(1), gdbm(3), gio(1), guestfs-recipes(1), htsfile(1), hxcopy(1), icmd(1), install(1), ksh93(1), lha(1), memcp(1), mksh(1), mmv(1), nbdkit-tmpdisk-plugin(1), oksh(1), pmlogmv(1), ptrash(1), rbldnsd(8), rcp(1), readprofile(8), rmlint(1), rsnapshot(1), rsync(1), spax(1), swapon(8), symlink(7), virt-sysprep(1).

June 2024 GNU coreutils 9.5