pbcopy is used to copy text from the terminal into the clipboard. The linux equivalent of pbcopy is xclip.

# Copies the contents of a file into the clipboard
$ pbcopy < example.txt

Useful Options / Examples

<command> | pbcopy

# 1:
$ cat example.txt | pbcopy

# 2:
$ echo 'Hello World!' | pbcopy

# 3:
$ grep hello helloworld.txt | pbcopy

# 4:
$ ps aux | pbcopy
Break it down
  • All of the above examples direct the output of various commands into the clipboard with the combination of the pipe ( | ) and pbcopy
  • 1: Demonstrates another way to copy the contents of the file, example.txt, into the clipboard
  • 2: Copies ‘Hello World!’ into your clipboard buffer
  • 3: Pipes the grep results into the clipboard
  • 4: Pipes the ps aux results into the clipboard

pbcopy -pboard {general | ruler | find | font}

# 1:
$ pbcopy -pboard general < example.txt

# 2:
$ pbcopy -pboard ruler < ruler.txt

# 3:
$ echo 'hello' | pbcopy -pboard find

# 4:
$ pbcopy -pboard font < text.txt
Break it down
  • The -pboard flag is used to specity which pasteboard to copy to (the default being general)
  • 1: The general option signals to the -pboard flag to copy to the standard clipboard. In this case, the contents of example.txt are copied into the standard clipboard. Pressing cmd+v after this command will paste your copied text from example.txt.
  • 2: The ruler option signals to the -pboard flag to copy to the ruler clipboard. In this command, the contents of ruler.txt are piped into the ruler clipboard.
  • 3: The find option signals to the -pboard flag to copy into find clipboard. Running cmd+f after this command will pre-populate the search bar with ‘hello’.
  • 4: The font option signals to the -pboard flag to copy to the font clipboard. This command specifically, pipes the contents of test.txt into the font clipboard. The font clipboard allows you to copy the font from a selection (in this case, test.txt), and paste it onto some other text.