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WL-CLIPBOARD(1) General Commands Manual WL-CLIPBOARD(1)


wl-clipboard - Wayland copy and paste command line utilities


wl-copy [--primary] [--type mime/type] [text...]

wl-paste [--primary] [--type mime/type]

Only the most useful options are listed here; see below for the full list.


wl-copy copies the given text to the Wayland clipboard. If no text is given, wl-copy copies data from its standard input.

wl-paste pastes data from the Wayland clipboard to its standard output.

Although wl-copy and wl-paste are particularly optimized for plain text and other textual content formats, they fully support content of arbitrary MIME types. wl-copy automatically infers the type of the copied content by running xdg-mime(1) on it. wl-paste tries its best to pick a type to paste based on the list of offered MIME types and the extension of the file it's pasting into. If you're not satisfied with the type they pick or don't want to rely on this implicit type inference, you can explicitly specify the type to use with the --type option.


To parse options, wl-clipboard uses the getopt(3) library routines, whose features depend on the C library in use. In particular, it may be possible to specify -- as an argument on its own to prevent any further arguments from getting parsed as options (which lets you copy text containing words that start with the - sign), and to shorten long options to their unambiguous prefixes.

Use the "primary" clipboard instead of the regular clipboard.
Only serve one paste request and then exit. Unless a clipboard manager specifically designed to prevent this is in use, this has the effect of clearing the clipboard after the first paste, which is useful for copying sensitive data such as passwords. Note that this may break pasting into some clients that expect to be able to paste multiple times, in particular pasting into XWayland windows is known to break when this option is used.
By default, wl-copy forks and serves data requests in the background; this option overrides that behavior, causing wl-copy to run in the foreground.
Instead of copying anything, clear the clipboard so that nothing is copied.
Do not copy the trailing newline character if it is present in the input file.
Do not append a newline character after the pasted clipboard content. This option is automatically enabled for non-text content types and when using the --watch mode.
Override the automatically selected MIME type. For wl-copy this option controls which type wl-copy will offer the content as. For wl-paste it controls which of the offered types wl-paste will request the content in. In addition to specific MIME types such as image/png, wl-paste also accepts generic type names such as text and image which make it automatically pick some offered MIME type that matches the given generic name.
Specify which seat wl-copy and wl-paste should work with. Wayland natively supports multi-seat configurations where each seat gets its own mouse pointer, keyboard focus, and among other things its own separate clipboard. The name of the default seat is likely default or seat0, and additional seat names normally come from the udev(7) property ENV{WL_SEAT}. You can view the list of the currently available seats as advertised by the compositor using the weston-info(1) tool. If you don't specify the seat name explicitly, wl-copy and wl-paste will pick a seat arbitrarily. If you are using a single-seat system, there is little reason to use this option.
Instead of pasting the selection, output the list of MIME types it is offered in.
Instead of pasting once and exiting, continuously watch the clipboard for changes, and run the specified command each time a new selection appears. The spawned process can read the clipboard contents from its standard input. wl-paste also sets the CLIPBOARD_STATE variable in the environment of the spawned processes (see below).
This mode requires a compositor that supports the wlroots data-control protocol.
Display the version of wl-clipboard and some short info about its license.
Display a short help message listing the available options.


Specifies what Wayland server wl-copy and wl-paste should connect to. This is the same environment variable that you pass to other Wayland clients, such as graphical applications, that connect to this Wayland server. It is normally set up automatically by the graphical session and the Wayland compositor. See wl_display_connect(3) for more details.
When set to 1, causes the wayland-client(7) library to log every interaction wl-copy and wl-paste make with the Wayland compositor to stderr.
Set by wl-paste for the spawned command in --watch mode. Currently the following possible values are defined:
Indicates that the clipboard contains data that the spawned command can read from its standard input. This is the most common case.
Indicates that the clipboard is empty. In this case the spawned command's standard input will be attached to /dev/null. Note that this is subtly different from the clipboard containing zero-sized data (which can be achieved, for instance, by running wl-copy < /dev/null).
Indicates that the clipboard is empty because of an explicit clear request, such as after running wl-copy --clear. As for nil, the command's standard input will be attached to /dev/null.
Indicates that the clipboard contains sensitive data such as a password or a key. It is probably best to avoid visibly displaying or persistently saving clipboard contents.
Any client programs implementing the CLIPBOARD_STATE protocol are encouraged to implement proper support for all the values listed above, as well as to fall back to some sensible behavior if CLIPBOARD_STATE is unset or set to some unrecognized value (this is to leave the design space open for future extensions). However, the currently existing Wayland clipboard protocols don't let wl-clipboard identify the cases where clear and sensitive values should be set, so currently wl-clipboard only ever sets CLIPBOARD_STATE to data or nil.
The CLIPBOARD_STATE protocol was intentionally designed to not be specific to either wl-clipboard or Wayland; in fact, other clipboard tools are encouraged to implement the same protocol. Currently, the SerenityOS paste(1) utility is known to implement the same CLIPBOARD_STATE protocol.


If present, read by wl-paste to infer the MIME type to paste in based on the file name extension of its standard output.


Unless the Wayland compositor implements the wlroots data-control protocol, wl-clipboard has to resort to using a hack to access the clipboard: it will briefly pop up a tiny transparent surface (window). On some desktop environments (in particular when using tiling window managers), this can cause visual issues such as brief flashing. In some cases the Wayland compositor doesn't give focus to the popup surface, which prevents wl-clipboard from accessing the clipboard and manifests as a hang.

There is currently no way to copy data in multiple MIME types, such as multiple image formats, at the same time.
See <>.

wl-clipboard is not always able to detect that a MIME type is textual, which may break pasting into clients that expect textual formats, not application/something. The workaround, same as for all format inference issues, is to specify the desired MIME type explicitly, such as wl-copy --type text/plain.

wl-copy --clear and wl-copy --paste-once don't always interact well with clipboard managers that are overeager to preserve clipboard contents.

Applications written using the GTK 3 toolkit copy text with "\r\n" (also known as CR LF) line endings, which takes most other software by surprise. wl-cipboard does nothing to rectify this. The recommended workaround is piping wl-paste output through dos2unix(1) when pasting from a GTK 3 application.
See <>.

When trying to paste content copied with wl-copy, wl-copy does not check whether the requested MIME type is among those it has offered, and always provides the same data in response.


$ wl-copy Hello world!
wl-copy -- --long
$ ls ~/Downloads | wl-copy
$ wl-copy < ~/Pictures/photo.png
$ wl-copy "!!"
$ wl-paste -n > clipboard.txt
$ wl-paste | sort | wl-copy
$ wl-paste --watch nc 5555


Written by Sergey Bugaev.


Report wl-clipboard bugs to <>
Please make sure to mention which Wayland compositor you are using, and attach WAYLAND_DEBUG=1 debugging logs of wl-clipboard.


Copyright © 2018-2023 Sergey Bugaev. 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.


xclip(1), xsel(1), wl-clipboard-x11(1)

2023-04-22 wl-clipboard