Command line clipboard access

It is possible to control the clipboard (copy and paste) from the
command line in linux and OSX. In linux, the
command is xsel, and
in OSX,

For example, someone IMed me and asked for a subversion URL. Normally, I would type “svn info” in a
terminal, use the mouse to select the URL, and
press Ctrl-Insert to copy. Instead, I can just run this command:

svn info | grep URL | xsel --clipboard

Then, I can Alt-Tab back to the IM window and press Ctrl-v. There is no
wasted time reaching for the mouse.

The—clipboard argument is required. Without it, xsel acts on the
currently selected text in the terminal rather then the clipboard.

In OSX, the equivalent command is:

svn info | grep URL | pbcopy

pbcopy/pbpaste come with OSX. In debian
flavors of linux, the following command will install xsel:

sudo apt-get install xsel

xsel can also be used to paste the clipboard. For example:

% echo ls | xsel --clipboard

% xsel --clipboard

% `xsel --clipboard`
bin    dev   initrd      lost+found    mnt   root  sys  var
Paul Gross

Paul Gross

I'm a lead software developer in Seattle working for Braintree Payments.

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