I'd like to do something like

dir *.* > clipboard

ie. get to get the standard output of a command line program copied to the clipboard. Can this be done on a standard XP machine without additional programs?


I don't believe so - Vista (or NT4) introduced the clip tool, which would do your command as dir | clip - but there's nothing on XP. If you're willing to use 3rd party applications, though, there's this, which works as above, except is called cb, not clip.

  • 2
    as a historical note, Arjan's link to the MS support note references NT4. but you're probably right that consumer versions of Windows didn't include clip.exe before Vista. – quack quixote Jan 19 '10 at 13:47
  • Oh, fair enough. Never really get a chance to mess around on business machines! :( – Phoshi Jan 19 '10 at 15:42
  • if it's any consolation, i completely missed out on all the fun of Windows NT 3.51. and i wasn't a fan of NT at all until i got to play with 2000 for a while. – quack quixote Jan 19 '10 at 15:45

For Windows and non-Windows, this post (dead link) used to say:

On Windows Vista or later, try: echo hello | clip

On Linux, try: echo hello | xclip

On Mac OS X, try: echo hello | pbcopy

For example, you might do (cat myFile.txt | xclip). This would basically allow you to edit the clipboard directly.

(I came here via Google looking for the Mac equivalent of xclip)

Similarly for contents of files (as you don't cat on windows):

type filename | clip  % OR clip < filename   %windows
cat filename | xclip  # OR xclip < filename  # X11 / Unix / Linux
cat filename | pbcopy # OR pbcopy < filename # MacOS X
  • 1
    The link above is now throwing a 500. For those of you unfamiliar with pbcopy, <kbd>Command</kbd>+<kbd>V</kbd> doesn't paste: you need to type (or alias to something shorter) pbpaste. – eebbesen Jan 14 '15 at 14:48

I looked into this for myself earlier today. Below is something helpful to those wanting to insert and retrieve information from the clipboard in a linux distribution. Below that is something that could prove helpful for those with windows.


By default, xclip uses the "primary" clipboard, which is what you have copied with your mouse. To get it to use the manual copy clipboard, use xclip -sel clip instead.

comment #3 here:


The functionality is available in Active Perl distribution also, which is what I wound up using on the windows box in this exercise; The windows clip.exe didn't appear to allow for reading the data from the clipboard (only writing into clipboard).


  • Since you've mentioned perl, I would like to add that ruby and python provide similar library too. – weakish Sep 30 '12 at 11:33

There's no standard way, but you can apparently use clip.exe which came with the Windows Server 2003 resource kit . Source

The problem now becomes getting hold of a legal copy of this.

  • I wonder how legal that is. What sort of licensing do MS put their small cli tools under, I wonder? – Phoshi Jan 19 '10 at 12:42
  • 1
    It was also available in the NT 4 and Server 2000 Resource kit if you have either of those available to you. It does not seem to be available in the now free-to-download subset of the 2000 RK tools. – AdamV Jan 19 '10 at 15:27

Windows users can get gclip.exe as part of a big bundle of tools, which allows you to do just this.


In PowerShell, it can be done like this:

dir *.* | clip
  • 1
    As an aside: see "Clip.exe Not Compatible with Notepad" at support.microsoft.com/kb/172596 – Arjan Jan 19 '10 at 12:44
  • 2
    That link isn't relevant to PowerShell. I've tested it and everything works fine with Notepad. – Mark Jan 19 '10 at 12:48
  • I can confirm that this works on XP, IF a Server 2003 clip.exe is in you path. Also works in a standard CMD prompt – Shevek Jan 19 '10 at 12:54
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    clip is just an external tool so it'll work in any consoles, not only powershell – phuclv Jan 8 '16 at 8:03

As of Windows Vista and later DOS has a built in clip command:


    Redirects output of command line tools to the Windows clipboard.
    This text output can then be pasted into other programs.

Parameter List:
    /?                  Displays this help message.

    DIR | CLIP          Places a copy of the current directory
                        listing into the Windows clipboard.

    CLIP < README.TXT   Places a copy of the text from readme.txt
                        on to the Windows clipboard.

If you're using cygwin on Windows (e.g. git for windows). You better dump the content into a temp file, then 'unix2dos' the temp file before really pipe to 'clip'

  • Welcome to Super User! Please read the question again carefully. Your answer does not answer the original question. clip does not exist on Windows XP. – DavidPostill Sep 9 '16 at 20:38

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