I have an image, Test.png, which I want to copy to the clipboard from the terminal as part of a Bash script so I can paste it into Word.

I've tried using pbcopy like this:

$ cat Test.png | pbcopy

However, when I try to paste the contents of the clipboard into Word, I get multiple pages of random characters. I assume the clipboard is flagged as containing text, so pastes a text representation of the image bytes:

enter image description here

How can I correctly copy an image from the terminal? This appears to happen with all PNG images, but if it helps the image that I'm using is this one:

enter image description here

3 Answers 3


Here is a link to an answer by Chris Johnsen on a related question that does what you're looking for. (In that case it's an HTML file, but it works for our needs here.)


Quote from the original answer:

osascript can ... be used as a hash-bang interpreter (since 10.5). Put this in a file (e.g. file-to-clipboard)

on run args
  set the clipboard to POSIX file (first item of args)

Make the file executable (chmod +x /path/to/where/ever/you/put/file-to-clipboard). Then run it like so:

/path/to/where/ever/you/put/file-to-clipboard ~/Desktop/ded.html

If it is stored in a directory in the PATH, then you can omit the path to the “script” file.

  • 1
    Unfortunately this doesn't work; when attempting to pasting into Word, there is no output at all. Thanks for your help though. Jun 3, 2017 at 8:20
  • Hmm. The hash-bang script works perfectly for me. I can't think of anything to suggest, other than making sure that Word can import your image file through the normal menu options first. Jun 3, 2017 at 8:55
  • I tried the Bash osascript. I'll try the hash bang one and see if that works. Jun 3, 2017 at 9:02
  • Please quote the essential parts of the answer from the reference link(s), as the answer can become invalid if the linked page(s) change.
    – DavidPostill
    Jun 3, 2017 at 15:10

I faced this problem and tried the other answers here and on related questions, but none of them worked - then I found this script, and it worked beautifully: https://gist.github.com/mwender/49609a18be41b45b2ae4

If you want an alternative, I also found this repo which worked: https://github.com/mike-neck/imgcopy

I believe you need to have xcode installed to build the second one though.


brew install pink, then you can use piknik to copy anything.
pbcopy < beauty.png works for me sometimes. It's strange that it does not work any more.

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