Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: January 2008
xsel - manipulate the X selection.
Retrieve and set the X selection.
The X server maintains three selections, called PRIMARY,
SECONDARY and CLIPBOARD. The PRIMARY selection is conventionally
used to implement copying and pasting via the middle mouse button. The
SECONDARY and CLIPBOARD selections are less frequently used by application
programs. This program operates on the PRIMARY selection unless otherwise
By default, this program outputs the selection without modification if both
standard input and standard output are terminals (ttys). Otherwise, the
current selection is output if standard output is not a terminal
(tty), and the selection is set from standard input if standard input
is not a terminal (tty). If any input or output options are given then
the program behaves only in the requested mode.
If both input and output is required then the previous selection is
output before being replaced by the contents of standard input.
- -a, --append
append standard input to the selection. Implies -i.
- -f, --follow
append to selection as standard input grows. Implies -i.
- -i, --input
read standard input into the selection.
- -o, --output
write the selection to standard output.
- -c, --clear
clear the selection. Overrides all input options.
- -d, --delete
Request that the current selection be deleted. This not only clears the
selection, but also requests to the program in which the selection
resides that the selected contents be deleted. Overrides all input
- -p, --primary
operate on the PRIMARY selection (default).
- -s, --secondary
operate on the SECONDARY selection.
- -b, --clipboard
operate on the CLIPBOARD selection.
- -k, --keep
Do not modify the selections, but make the PRIMARY and SECONDARY selections
persist even after the programs they were selected in exit. (Conventionally,
the CLIPBOARD selection is persisted by a separate special purpose program
such as xclipboard(1)). Ignores all input and output
- -x, --exchange
exchange the PRIMARY and SECONDARY selections. Ignores all input
and output options.
- -d displayname, --display displayname
specify the server to use; see X(1).
- -t ms, --selectionTimeout ms
Specify the timeout in milliseconds within which the selection must be
retrieved. A value of 0 (zero) specifies no timeout (default).
- -l filename, --logfile filename
Specify the file to log errors to when detached. (Default
- -n, --nodetach
Do not detach from the controlling terminal. Without this option, xsel will
fork to become a background process in input, exchange and
- -h, --help
display usage information and exit
- -v, --verbose
Print informative messages. Additional instances of -v raise the
debugging level, ie. print more information.
output version information and exit
There is no X selection buffer. The selection mechanism in X11 is
an interclient communication mediated by the X server each time any
program wishes to know the selection contents, eg. to perform a middle
mouse button paste. In order to implement modification of the selection(s)
(in input, keep and exchange modes) this program detaches
from the terminal, spawning a child process to supply the new selection(s)
on demand. This child exits immediately when any other program takes over
the selection(s), eg. when the user next selects some text in a terminal
window or by running xsel -c.
xsel conforms to the Inter-Client Communication Conventions Manual
Version 2.0 (ICCCM2).
X(1), Xserver(1), xset(1), xclipboard(1), xpaste(1)
Conrad Parker <email@example.com>, July 2001
- SEE ALSO
This document was created by
using the manual pages.
Time: 15:23:18 GMT, January 12, 2008