copy − file/directory copy utility


copy [options] file1 file2

copy [options] file ... directory


Copy is an extension of the basic POSIX cp utility. It copies files, preserving their modification date.


Copy copies file1 onto file2. It preserves the existing mode of file2. If file2 did not exist, copy uses the mode of the source file.

Copy can also be used to copy one or more files into directory, without changing their original filenames. It refuses to copy a file onto itself.

Except for symbolic links, file2 will be set to the same modification date as file1. The owner of the file will be the same as the owner of the process which invokes copy. Unless the "−i" option is used, copy ignores permissions of the (previous) destination file.


Copy recognizes options similar to those of cp, but with extensions:


include dot-files (names beginning with ’.’). This is the default. Use this option to override −z, e.g., in a script which presets that option.


all names given are treated as the destination; the source names are obtained by taking the leaves and looking for them in the current working directory. This is provided to simplify installation of files in a directory.


forces copy into protected directories by temporarily changing the destination protection.


prompt with the name of the file whenever the copy will cause an old file to be overwritten. A "y" answer causes copy to continue. Any other answer prevents it from overwriting the file.


copy the files which symbolic links point to, rather than copying the links themselves.


permits you to merge directories. If the source and destination are directories, copy will normally create a new directory under the destination with the same leaf name as the source. For example,

copy /local/bin /usr/local/bin

will create and copy into the directory "/usr/local/bin/bin" if "/usr/local/bin" exists. Use the "−m" option to copy onto an existing directory.


disables the actual creation or modification of files, and (depending on the level of verboseness) shows the effect which the copy command would have.


attempt to preserve file ownership.


enables the set-uid and set-gid file modes in the target.


copies files only if their size or modification date differs, and links only if the link-text differs.


copies only files that are newer than the destination, or that do not exist in the destination.


verbose mode directs copy to print the names (to standard error) of the files which it copies.


omit dot-files (names beginning with ’.’).


(Linux only) tells copy that the source is on a filesystem using local time, and that appropriate adjustments must be made in the timestamp computation.


(Linux only) tells copy that the destination is on a filesystem using local time, and that appropriate adjustments must be made in the timestamp computation.


Copy is used exactly as one would use cp (for file-copying). Directory copying is performed without the "−r" option of cp.

Copy recognizes the C-shell "~" (tilde) to denote the home directory of POSIX users.

If more than two arguments are given, or if the destination ends with "/", copy assumes that the user wants to write into an existing directory rather than create a new one.


Copy is a C-language program which runs in a POSIX environment.


Copy is a single binary file, "copy".


Copy does not currently know how to handle special files (e.g., /dev/tty).


cp (1)


Thomas E. Dickey <>