CP(1) BSD General Commands Manual CP(1)NAMEcp — copy files
SYNOPSIScp [-R [-H | -L | -P]] [-fip] source_file target_file
cp [-R [-H | -L | -P]] [-fip] source_file ... target_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 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:
-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.)
-L If the -R option is specified, all symbolic links are followed.
-P If the -R option is specified, no symbolic links are followed.
-R If source_file designates a directory, cp copies the directory and
the entire subtree connected at that point. This option also
causes symbolic links to be copied, rather than indirected through,
and for cp to create special files rather than copying them as nor‐
mal files. Created directories have the same mode as the corre‐
sponding source directory, unmodified by the process' umask.
-f For each existing destination pathname, remove it and create a new
file, without prompting for confirmation regardless of its permis‐
sions. (The -i option is ignored if the -f option is specified.)
-i Causes 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’, the
file copy is attempted.
-p Causes cp to preserve in the copy as many of the modification time,
access time, file flags, file mode, user ID, and group ID as
allowed by permissions.
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 or set group
ID bits are preserved in the copy's permissions.
For each destination file that already exists, its contents are overwrit‐
ten if permissions allow, but its mode, user ID, and group ID are
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.
Cp exits 0 on success, >0 if an error occurred.
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.
SEE ALSOmv(1), rcp(1), umask(2), fts(3), symlink(7)HISTORY
The cp command is expected to be IEEE Std 1003.2 (“POSIX.2”) compatible.
4th Berkeley Distribution April 18, 1994 4th Berkeley Distribution