Manual Reference Pages  - 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
-b like --backup but does not accept an argument
  copy contents of special files when recursive
-d same as --no-dereference --preserve=links
-f, --force
  if an existing destination file cannot be opened, remove it and try again (redundant if the -n option is used)
-i, --interactive
  prompt before overwrite (overrides a previous -n option)
-H 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
-p 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
--help 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.


Report cp bugs to
GNU coreutils home page: <>
General help using GNU software: <>
Report cp translation bugs to <>


Copyright © 2011 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.


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 cp invocation
should give you access to the complete manual.

GNU coreutils 8.12.197-032bb CP (1) September 2011
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