manpagez: man pages & more
man cp(1)
Home | html | info | man
cp(1)                     BSD General Commands Manual                    cp(1)


     cp -- copy files


     cp [-R [-H | -L | -P]] [-fi | -n] [-apvX] source_file target_file
     cp [-R [-H | -L | -P]] [-fi | -n] [-apvX] source_file ...


     In the first synopsis form, the cp utility copies the contents of the
     source_file to the target_file.  In the second synopsis form, the con-
     tents of each named source_file is copied to the destination
     target_directory.  The names of the files themselves are not changed.  If
     cp detects an attempt to copy a file to itself, the copy will fail.

     The following options are available:

     -a    Same as -pPR options. Preserves structure and attributes of files
           but not directory structure.

     -f    If the destination file cannot be opened, remove it and create a
           new file, without prompting for confirmation regardless of its per-
           missions.  (The -f option overrides any previous -n option.)

           The target file is not unlinked before the copy.  Thus, any exist-
           ing access rights will be retained.

     -H    If the -R option is specified, symbolic links on the command line
           are followed.  (Symbolic links encountered in the tree traversal
           are not followed.)

     -i    Cause cp to write a prompt to the standard error output before
           copying a file that would overwrite an existing file.  If the
           response from the standard input begins with the character `y' or
           `Y', the file copy is attempted.  (The -i option overrides any pre-
           vious -n option.)

     -L    If the -R option is specified, all symbolic links are followed.

     -n    Do not overwrite an existing file.  (The -n option overrides any
           previous -f or -i options.)

     -P    If the -R option is specified, no symbolic links are followed.
           This is the default.

     -p    Cause cp to preserve the following attributes of each source file
           in the copy: modification time, access time, file flags, file mode,
           user ID, and group ID, as allowed by permissions.  Access Control
           Lists (ACLs) and Extended Attributes (EAs), including resource
           forks, will also be preserved.

           If the user ID and group ID cannot be preserved, no error message
           is displayed and the exit value is not altered.

           If the source file has its set-user-ID bit on and the user ID can-
           not be preserved, the set-user-ID bit is not preserved in the
           copy's permissions.  If the source file has its set-group-ID bit on
           and the group ID cannot be preserved, the set-group-ID bit is not
           preserved in the copy's permissions.  If the source file has both
           its set-user-ID and set-group-ID bits on, and either the user ID or
           group ID cannot be preserved, neither the set-user-ID nor set-
           group-ID bits are preserved in the copy's permissions.

     -R    If source_file designates a directory, cp copies the directory and
           the entire subtree connected at that point.  If the source_file
           ends in a /, the contents of the directory are copied rather than
           the directory itself.  This option also causes symbolic links to be
           copied, rather than indirected through, and for cp to create spe-
           cial files rather than copying them as normal files.  Created
           directories have the same mode as the corresponding source direc-
           tory, unmodified by the process' umask.

           In -R mode, cp will continue copying even if errors are detected.

           Note that cp copies hard-linked files as separate files.  If you
           need to preserve hard links, consider using tar(1), cpio(1), or
           pax(1) instead.

     -v    Cause cp to be verbose, showing files as they are copied.

     -X    Do not copy Extended Attributes (EAs) or resource forks.

     For each destination file that already exists, its contents are overwrit-
     ten if permissions allow.  Its mode, user ID, and group ID are unchanged
     unless the -p option was specified.

     In the second synopsis form, target_directory must exist unless there is
     only one named source_file which is a directory and the -R flag is speci-

     If the destination file does not exist, the mode of the source file is
     used as modified by the file mode creation mask (umask, see csh(1)).  If
     the source file has its set-user-ID bit on, that bit is removed unless
     both the source file and the destination file are owned by the same user.
     If the source file has its set-group-ID bit on, that bit is removed
     unless both the source file and the destination file are in the same
     group and the user is a member of that group.  If both the set-user-ID
     and set-group-ID bits are set, all of the above conditions must be ful-
     filled or both bits are removed.

     Appropriate permissions are required for file creation or overwriting.

     Symbolic links are always followed unless the -R flag is set, in which
     case symbolic links are not followed, by default.  The -H or -L flags (in
     conjunction with the -R flag) cause symbolic links to be followed as
     described above.  The -H, -L and -P options are ignored unless the -R
     option is specified.  In addition, these options override each other and
     the command's actions are determined by the last one specified.

     If cp receives a SIGINFO (see the status argument for stty(1)) signal,
     the current input and output file and the percentage complete will be
     written to the standard output.


     The cp utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


     Historic versions of the cp utility had a -r option.  This implementation
     supports that option; however, its use is strongly discouraged, as it
     does not correctly copy special files, symbolic links, or fifo's.

     The -v and -n options are non-standard and their use in scripts is not


     In legacy mode, -f will override -i.  Also, under the -f option, the tar-
     get file is always unlinked before the copy.  Thus, new access rights
     will always be set.

     In -R mode, copying will terminate if an error is encountered.

     For more information about legacy mode, see compat(5).


     mv(1), rcp(1), umask(2), fts(3), compat(5), symlink(7)


     The cp command is expected to be IEEE Std 1003.2 (``POSIX.2'') compati-


     A cp command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.

BSD                            February 23, 2005                           BSD

Mac OS X 10.6 - Generated Thu Sep 17 20:07:22 CDT 2009
© 2000-2018
Individual documents may contain additional copyright information.