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CP(1) User Commands CP(1)


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.
-a, --archive
same as -dR --preserve=all
don't copy the file data, just the attributes
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
-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)
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
do not overwrite an existing file (overrides a previous -i option)
-P, --no-dereference
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
don't preserve the specified attributes
use full source file name under DIRECTORY
-R, -r, --recursive
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
-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
-u, --update
copy only when the SOURCE file is newer than the destination file or when the destination file is missing
-v, --verbose
explain what is being done
-x, --one-file-system
stay on this file system
set SELinux security context of destination file to default type
like -Z, or if CTX is specified then set the SELinux or SMACK security context to CTX
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.


GNU coreutils online help: <>
Report cp translation bugs to <>


Copyright © 2016 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.


Full documentation at: <>
or available locally via: info '(coreutils) cp invocation'
February 2017 GNU coreutils 8.26