Copying text from a terminal

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Most mature terminal emulators permit users to copy or save their contents.

General approach

In graphical terminal emulators, contents are typically selectable by mouse, and can then be copied using the context menu, Edit menu or a key combination such as Ctrl+Shift+c.

Terminals without CLIPBOARD selection


Some emulators do not support the CLIPBOARD selection natively, and copy data to the PRIMARY selection. For them xclip may be used:

$ xclip -o | xclip -selection clipboard -i

The above command reads data from the PRIMARY selection and writes it to CLIPBOARD selection.

Other clipboard managers such as autocutselAUR provide automatic synchronization between selection buffers.


Utilities like wl-clipboard and clipboardAUR can copy data to the Wayland clipboard:

$ command 2>&1 | wl-copy

Intercepting commands output

Use tee to intercept the output of a command.

$ command 2>&1 | tee output-file

After the command is executed, output-file will contain its output, while having displayed the output at the same time.

Accessing Linux terminal backlog

The backlog of a native terminal named /dev/ttyN may be accessed via /dev/vcsN. Hence, if one is working in /dev/tty1, the following snippet will let store the backlog in a file output-file:

# cat /dev/vcs1 > output-file

Comparison of common emulators

The factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.

Reason: Some "No" entries in this table may be wrong. (Discuss in Talk:Copying text from a terminal#A cheatsheet for common emulators: "No" entries factual accuracy)

Unless the "Key combination" column states otherwise, the key combination is Ctrl+Shift+c.

Emulator Select to PRIMARY CLIPBOARD
Key combination Context menu Window menu Select
Alacritty Yes Yes No No No
atermAUR Yes No No No No
etermAUR Yes No No No No
foot Yes Yes No No Optional
germinalAUR Yes Yes Yes No No
Guake Yes Yes Yes No No
Konsole Yes Yes Yes Yes Optional
lilyterm-gitAUR Yes Yes Ctrl+Delete Yes No No
lxterminal Yes Yes Yes Yes No
mate-terminal Yes Yes Yes Yes No
mltermAUR Yes Yes No No Yes
pantheon-terminal Yes Yes Yes No No
PuTTY Yes No No No No
qterminal Yes Yes Yes Yes No
roxtermAUR Yes Yes Yes Yes No
rxvt-unicode Yes Yes Ctrl+Alt+c No No Optional
sakuraAUR Yes Yes Yes Yes No
st Yes Yes No No No
Terminator Yes Yes Yes No No
terminology Yes Yes Yes No No
Termite Yes Yes No No No
Tilda Yes Yes Yes No No
xfce4-terminal Yes Yes Yes Yes No
xterm Yes Optional[1] No No Yes
Yakuake Yes Yes Yes No Optional

Special cases


The xclip approach works for putty: one just has to remember that the xclip invocation should be done on the local computer (in another terminal), not on the remote machine to which putty is connected.


Selecting text to CLIPBOARD requires the selection-to-clipboard perl extension. See rxvt-unicode#Clipboard for details.


Access to the CLIPBOARD selection in xterm requires additional steps.


In addition to Ctrl+Shift+c, you can use Ctrl+Insert if you do not want to kill processes accidentally.