How to force cp to overwrite without confirmation


I'm trying to use the cp command and force an overwrite.

I have tried cp -rf /foo/* /bar, but I am still prompted to confirm each overwrite.

1/18/2016 12:11:48 AM

Accepted Answer

You can do yes | cp -rf xxx yyy, but my gutfeeling says that if you do it as root - your .bashrc or .profile has an alias of cp to cp -i, most modern systems (primarily RH-derivatives) do that to root profiles.

You can check existing aliases by running alias at the command prompt, or which cp to check aliases only for cp.

If you do have an alias defined, running unalias cp will abolish that for the current session, otherwise you can just remove it from your shell profile.

You can temporarily bypass an alias and use the non-aliased version of a command by prefixing it with \, e.g. \cp whatever

1/21/2018 11:45:52 AM

This is probably caused by cp being already aliased to something like cp -i. Calling cp directly should work:

/bin/cp -rf /zzz/zzz/* /xxx/xxx

Another way to get around this is to use the yes command:

yes | cp -rf /zzz/zzz/* /xxx/xxx

As some of the other answers have stated, you probably use an alias somewhere which maps cp to cp -i or something similar. You can run a command without any aliases by preceding it with a backslash. In your case, try

\cp -r /zzz/zzz/* /xxx/xxx

The backslash will temporarily disable any aliases you have called cp.


You probably have an alias somewhere, mapping cp to cp -i; because with the default settings, cp won't ask to overwrite. Check your .bashrc, your .profile etc.

See cp manpage: Only when -i parameter is specified will cp actually prompt before overwriting.

You can check this via the alias command:

$ alias
alias cp='cp -i'
alias diff='diff -u'

To undefine the alias, use:

$ unalias cp

As other answers have stated, this could happend if cp is an alias of cp -i.

You can append a \ before the cp command to use it without alias.

\cp -fR source target

By default cp has aliase to cp -i. You can check it, type alias and you can see some like:

alias cp='cp -i'
alias l.='ls -d .* --color=auto'
alias ll='ls -l --color=auto'
alias ls='ls --color=auto'
alias mv='mv -i'
alias rm='rm -i'

To solve this problem just use /bin/cp /from /to command instead cp /from /to