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How to use the clipboard in a terminal

Sometimes it’s handy to copy a command output or paste a piece of text into a unix pipe. Fortunately, there are handy commands to do it.


The interaction with the Xorg clipboard is done using the xclip command. The xclip command is in the xclip package in Fedora:

sudo dnf install xclip

To copy a command output to the clipboard, just use:

echo "I am now in your clipboard" | xclip

To get the clipboard content as a command output, the following command is useful:

xclip -o

Of course, this is much more useful with pipes. The following example pipes the clipboard content into the less pager:

xclip -o | less


If you use a more brave Linux distribution, you may use the Wayland project instead of Xorg. In this case, you can use the wl-clipboard project. You can install it in Fedora from the wl-clipboard package:

sudo dnf install wl-clipboard

To copy a command output to the clipboard, you can use wl-copy:

echo "I am now in your wayland clipboard" | wl-copy

Pasting is done using the wl-paste command:

wl-paste | less

Using these tools to get your public key to the clipboard

I often spin up virtual machines in a cloud. To be able to log in to them using my public SSH key, it’s usually needed to write the key into some kind of web interface. To simplify that process I use this handy command:

# Xorg version
cat ~/.ssh/ | xclip

# Wayland version
cat ~/.ssh/ | wl-copy

This instantly puts my public key to the clipboard and I can just alt-tab to the browser and paste it to the right field. Simple, isn’t it?