Short File Copy Command Line

Making a backup copy of a file is a pretty common thing to do (although you should be using RCS for a lot of these…). If you’re using a machine with a GUI then copy and pasting the file name twice, with an extension on the end, is pretty simple. If you’re either a keyboard jockey or without a mouse you can make your life easier with these two short cuts:

# make a copy of file. add the .old extension
cp filename{,-old}

# overwrite the old version with the new version
cp filename{-old,}

# make a backup of a file deep in a directory tree. The copy
# is in the remote directory, not the working one.
cp /var/www/{,-old}

It’s not a huge saving until you find yourself with long filenames, working on a machine without a GUI but it is a useful trick to know.