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Command-Line Copy&Paste With xclip (Debian/Ubuntu)

xclip is a command line interface to the X11 clipboard. It allows you to put the output of a command directly into the clipboard so that you don’t have to copy&paste from the terminal manually (which can be a tedious task especially if the output is very long). It also allows you to put the contents of a file directly into the clipboard.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Installing xclip

xclip is available as a package for Debian and Ubuntu so that it can be installed with aptitude. Open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal)…


… and run:

sudo aptitude install xclip


2 Using xclip

To put the output of a command into the clipboard, we have to pipe the command into xclip, e.g. like this:

ls -la | xclip


This puts the output of the ls -la command into the clipboard, and you can now paste the output into any other program (e.g. a text editor) by pressing the middle button of your mouse:


To put the whole contents of a file (e.g. /etc/apt/sources.list) into the clipboard, you’d use xclip as follows:

xclip /etc/apt/sources.list

You can use xclip as well to output the contents of the clipboard:

xclip -o

And to save the contents of the clipboard to a file (e.g. ~/test.txt), you’d call xclip as follows:

xclip -o > ~/test.txt

To learn more about xclip, take a look at its man page:

man xclip


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