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Copy To the Clipboard From the Windows Command Prompt

Let’s face it, not everybody is an ubergeek, so there are many times that you’ll need to ask somebody for help. They always seem to ask you to type things into the command prompt and then tell them the results… but how do you copy that text to the clipboard so you can email it to them?

I had always thought this was universally understood, but it turns out that a lot of people are unaware of how it works. There are two options, the default right-click menu… or QuickEdit mode. We’ll explain both.

Enable QuickEdit Mode

Right-click anywhere on the title bar and then select Properties. (Or use Alt+Space P)

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On the Options tab, check the box for “QuickEdit Mode” and then close the dialog.

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That was simple…

Copy / Paste in QuickEdit Mode

If you have this mode enabled, you can simply left-click anywhere in the window and drag a box around the text that you would like to select.

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Once you’ve selected the text, you can either right-click anywhere in the window or use the Enter key to copy the selected text to the clipboard.

To paste into the command prompt, simply use the right mouse button anywhere inside the window while not in “Select” mode.

Copy / Paste With Right-Click Menu

If you don’t want to change any settings, you can just use the right-click menu to copy or paste text. Note that the right-click menu doesn’t show up with QuickEdit mode enabled.

Right-click on the background of the window and select “Mark”, and then draw a box around the text you want to copy.

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Once you have selected the text you want, then use the right mouse button or the  Enter key to copy the selected text to the clipboard.

To paste into the window, right-click and choose the “Paste” option on the menu.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/18/08

Comments (6)

  1. Ram Sambamurthy

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve been using the Edit menu item, never knew quickedit existed.

  2. Barron

    I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know about the QuickEdit mode despite the fact that I use the command line (and Cygwin) a lot, but my excitement to know about them now far outweighs that. This will greatly impact how I use my computer on a daily basis. Thanks Geek!

  3. Russ Francis

    Thank you for this tutorial! This will certainly save some time in comparison to my former take-a-screenshot-and-paste-into-Word-and-transcribe-into-search-engine-text-box method.

  4. Rick Scovel

    Thank you for this tip… Using it allowed my to copy the directory to the clip board vs having it go directly to the printer.

    Thank you once again!

  5. unique

    any command line for the same in unix or linux or xp, in windows vista we have clip. to copy the o/p of aoomand result. but any idea in other platforms like unix linux xp

  6. SDGIS

    Is there any command line tools to write the contents of a command line window to a text file?

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