cp - copy files and directories


cp [''OPTION''?... SOURCE DEST cp [''OPTION''?... SOURCE... DIRECTORY cp [''OPTION''?... --target-directory=DIRECTORY SOURCE...


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

-a, --archive

same as -dpR


make a backup of each existing destination file


like --backup but does not accept an argument

-d, --no-dereference

never follow symbolic links

-f, --force

if an existing destination file cannot be opened, remove it and try again

-i, --interactive

prompt before overwrite


follow command-line symbolic links

-l, --link

link files instead of copying

-L, --dereference

always follow symbolic links

-p, --preserve

preserve file attributes if possible


append source path to DIRECTORY


same as `--parents' for now; soon to change to `--no-dereference' to conform to POSIX


copy recursively, non-directories as files WARNING: use -R instead when you might copy special files like FIFOs or /dev/zero


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


control creation of sparse files

-R, --recursive

copy directories recursively

--strip-trailing-slashes remove any trailing slashes from each SOURCE


-s, --symbolic-link

make symbolic links instead of copying

-S, --suffix=SUFFIX

override the usual backup suffix


move all SOURCE arguments into DIRECTORY

-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


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 --sparseauto. Specify --sparsealways 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.

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.


Report bugs to


Copyright 2001 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.


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 cp

should give you access to the complete manual.

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