How to Copy Files in Linux

This minHour teaches you how to copy and paste a file on a Linux computer. The command line can be used to copy and paste files, or you can use the keyboard shortcuts or your computer's right-click function if you're using a version of Linux that has a user interface.

Using the Command Line

Open Terminal.

Click or double-click the Terminal app icon, which usually resembles a black box with a white “>_” on it.

  • You can also just press to open Terminal on most Linux versions.

Go to the proper directory.

Type in cd path where “path” is the address of the folder in which the file you want to copy is located, then press ↵ Enter.

  • For example, to tell Terminal to look for your file in the Desktop folder, you would type cd Desktop into Terminal.
  • Make sure you capitalize the folder’s name if necessary.
  • If attempting to switch to a folder results in an error, you’ll need to enter the folder’s entire path (e.g., /home/name/Desktop/folder instead of just folder) here.

Type in the “copy” tag.

This tag is cp with a space after it.

Enter a file’s name.

Type in the name and extension of the file you want to copy after cp and the space, then add a space.

  • For example, if you want to copy a file named “hello”, you would type cp hello into Terminal.
  • If the file name has an extension on the end of it (e.g., “.desktop”), make sure you include the extension in the file’s name when typing it into Terminal.

Enter the destination folder.

Type in the path for the folder into which you want to copy the file.

  • For example, if you want to copy “hello” into a folder named “Hi” that’s stored in the Documents folder, you would have cp hello /home/name/Documents/Hi (where “name” is your username) typed into Terminal.

Press ↵ Enter.

Doing so will run your command. Your file will be pasted into the folder you specified.

Using the Interface

Consider using keyboard shortcuts.

As with virtually all operating systems that have user interfaces, you can use keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste files on Linux:

  • Click the file you want to copy to select it, or drag your mouse across multiple files to select them all.
  • Press to copy the files.
  • Go to the folder into which you want to copy the files.
  • Press to paste in the files.

Find the file you want to copy.

Go to the location in which the file is located.

Select the file.

Click once the file to do so.

Right-click the file.

Doing so will prompt a drop-down menu.

  • Some Linux versions will also display a menu bar at the top of the screen. If so, you can click Edit instead of right-clicking the selected file.

Click Copy.

It’s in the drop-down menu. This copies the selected file.

  • You may click Copy… or Copy File on some versions of Linux.

Go to the destination folder.

Find the folder into which you want to paste the file.

Right-click an empty space.

This will create a drop-down menu in the folder.

Click Paste.

It’s in the drop-down menu. Doing so pastes in your copied file.


  • If you want to move a file to a different folder rather than copying the file, you can type mv instead of cp when specifying the file’s name and its destination (e.g., mv hello Documents).
  • Holding down Ctrl while clicking individual files will select each file you click. Right-clicking one of the selected files and selecting Copy will then copy all of the selected files.


  • Not all versions of Linux have a user interface. If your version of Linux has only a command line, you’ll need to use the “cp” command to copy your files.

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