Copying Output of Commands in a Linux Terminal to X Selection or Clipboard

xclip is a tool to copy the copy the output of commands from a command line in a terminal to X selection or clipboard. It connects the command line interface and the X selections (clipboard) and is a very useful tool. For example, processing some text in vim in a terminal and then copying it to the browser will be easily handled by xclip.

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There are lots good documents and tutorials on the Web including xclip man page, this tutorial and this one. I just give two very common use cases with the command examples. Make sure you have already installed it. On Fedora Linux, you can install it by # yum install xclip.

Copying a file (file.txt)’s content to the other X applications

2 methods here.

Method 1. Use X selection

First, copying the file content by

$ cat file.txt | xclip

Beside of using cat, you can also use xclip’s -i option.

Then, go the the X application’s input box and hit the middle key or scroll wheel.

Method 2. Use X clipboard

First, copying the file content by

$ cat file.txt | xclip -selection c

Then, go the the X application’s input box and press Ctrl + V.

Copying the clipboard content to a file (out.txt)

First, copying the file content in the X application by Ctrl + C as usually or by selecting them (using your mouse) as usual.

Then, saving the content you copied to a file.

$ xclip -o >out.txt

This step is the same no matter you use Ctrl + C or **selection in the previous step.

For more options, check the xclip man page.

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Eric Zhiqiang Ma

Eric Zhiqiang Ma is interested in operating systems and distributed computing and processing systems. Find Eric on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. The views or opinions expressed here are solely Eric's own and do not necessarily represent those of any third parties.

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