cp – copy files and directories




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

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

same as -dR –preserve=all
make a backup of each existing destination file
like –backup but does not accept an argument
copy contents of special files when recursive
same as –no-dereference –preserve=links
if an existing destination file cannot be opened, remove it and try again (redundant if the -n option is used)
prompt before overwrite (overrides a previous -n option)
follow command-line symbolic links in SOURCE
link files instead of copying
always follow symbolic links in SOURCE
do not overwrite an existing file (overrides a previous -i option)
never follow symbolic links in SOURCE
same as –preserve=mode,ownership,timestamps
preserve the specified attributes (default: mode,ownership,timestamps), if possible additional attributes: context, links, xattr, all
same as –preserve=context
don’t preserve the specified attributes
use full source file name under DIRECTORY
copy directories recursively
control clone/CoW copies. See below.
remove each existing destination file before attempting to open it (contrast with –force)
control creation of sparse files. See below.
remove any trailing slashes from each SOURCE argument
make symbolic links instead of copying
override the usual backup suffix
copy all SOURCE arguments into DIRECTORY
treat DEST as a normal file
copy only when the SOURCE file is newer than the destination file or when the destination file is missing
explain what is being done
stay on this file system
set security context of copy to CONTEXT
display this help and exit
output version information and exit

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.

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.

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.


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

Reporting Bugs

Report cp bugs to [email protected]
GNU coreutils home page: <http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/>
General help using GNU software: <http://www.gnu.org/gethelp/>
Report cp translation bugs to <http://translationproject.org/team/>


Copyright © 2010 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

See Also

The full documentation for cp is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and cp programs are properly installed at your site, the command

info coreutils aqcp invocationaq

should give you access to the complete manual.

Referenced By

acl(5), cpdup(1), cpuset(7), dccp(1), enconv(1), gdbm(3), memcp(1), mirrordir(1), mksh(1), mkswap(8), rbldnsd(8), rcp(1), rdup-cp(1), rdup-cp(8), rdup-snap(1), rdup-snap(8), rsnapshot(1), rsync(1), spax(1), symlink(7), vcp(1), virt-sysprep(1)


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