How do i copy text that includes tab characters from a text editor, let's say gedit into a terminal session on ubuntu/gnome? I am on ubuntu 12.0.4 using gnome classic.

UPDATE This same issue happens in CentOs - basically seems to apply to any gnome.


3 Answers 3


As I mentioned on the OS X version of this question, pasting tabs works fine. But copying them in the first place is tricky on Linux.


There does not appear to be any solution to this.

  • Hang on, are you trying to paste into the terminal prompt, or into a text file opened in the terminal? If the former, could you explain why you would need that?
    – terdon
    Jun 19, 2018 at 10:42

Just select the text you want to copy, and then middle click on the terminal. On most *nix systems, selecting copies and middle click pastes.

Alternatively, you can select => right click=>copy => terminal => right click=> paste

Or, simply Ctrl+C,Ctrl+V

Have a look here for a short explanation of the Linux/Unix clipboard and the X buffer.

  • I neglected to mention the problem focuses on tab characters getting lost. Jun 14, 2013 at 14:38
  • @javadba selecting and middle clicking should copy tabs across correctly. In fact all of them should.
    – terdon
    Jun 14, 2013 at 14:47
  • Tabs definitely get lost with control c: pls test yourself - does "middle click" keep the tabs? i have 2 button mouse only Jun 14, 2013 at 15:00
  • @javadba if you have a two button mouse, you can emulate the middle click by clicking both buttons at the same time. I did try it and both Ctrl+V and Middle click copy the tabs correctly on my system. Are you sure you have tabs there? You can check with od -c file.txt.
    – terdon
    Jun 14, 2013 at 16:27
  • (a) clicking both left and right is not working (b) I usually do not have an external mouse anyways and no middle click on trackpad. So in the end I still do not have a solution. I came back here to my own question via googling over a year later. Jul 25, 2014 at 5:01

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