CP(1) General Commands Manual CP(1)
cp - copy files
cp [-fipv] [-R [-H | -L | -P]] source target
cp [-fipv] [-R [-H | -L | -P]] source ... directory
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
contents of each named source file are copied to the destination
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 options are as follows:
-f For each existing destination pathname, remove it and create a
new file, without prompting for confirmation, regardless of its
permissions. The -f option overrides any previous -i options.
-H If the -R option is also specified, symbolic links on the command
line are followed. Symbolic links encountered in the tree
traversal are not followed.
-i 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', the file copy is
attempted. The -i option overrides any previous -f options.
-L If the -R option is also specified, all symbolic links are
-P If the -R option is also specified, no symbolic links are
-p Preserve in the copy as many of the modification time, access
time, file flags, file mode, user ID, and group ID as allowed by
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
cannot 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 designates a directory, cp copies the directory and the
entire subtree connected at that point. Created directories have
the same mode as the corresponding source directory, unmodified
by the process's umask.
This option also causes symbolic links to be copied, rather than
followed, and special files to be created, rather than being
copied as normal files. However, cp copies hard linked files as
separate files. To preserve hard links, use a utility such as
pax(1) or tar(1) instead.
-v Display the source and destination after each copy.
For each destination file that already exists, its contents are
overwritten if permissions allow, but its mode, user ID, and group ID are
In the second synopsis form, the destination specified by the directory
operand must exist unless there is only one named source which is a
directory and the -R flag is specified.
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
fulfilled or both bits are removed.
Appropriate permissions are required for file creation or overwriting.
When a file containing large blocks of zero-valued bytes is copied, cp
will attempt to create a sparse file.
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.
The cp utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.
Make a copy of file foo named bar:
$ cp foo bar
Copy a group of files to the /tmp directory:
$ cp *.txt /tmp
Copy the directory junk and all of its contents (including any
subdirectories) to the /tmp directory:
$ cp -R junk /tmp
mv(1), umask(2), fts(3), symlink(7)
The cp utility is compliant with the IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 ("POSIX.1")
The flag [-v] is an extension to that specification.
Historic versions of the cp utility had an -r option. This
implementation supports that option; however, its use is strongly
discouraged, as it does not correctly copy special files, symbolic links
A cp command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
OpenBSD 6.4 June 28, 2017 OpenBSD 6.4
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