I use the terminal a lot and aliases are a great way to both personalise my command line experience, but also to make some tasks a little easier (and sometimes, smarter 😎).

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This isn't rocket science, but I've got special aliases for my copy and paste commands. Since I use a Mac, the command line paste command is pbpaste, which…well doesn't immediately sprint to mind. Equally, copy is pbcopy and quite often I want to copy to my clipboard but also see what was copied.

There's just one addition that I like to add to the copy command: I find it useful to also copy the contents of files occasionally. So copy for me is actually a function:

# make copy a function that checks whether there's an
# argument being passed, and if so, cat the file and pipe
# through copy. otherwise, pipe stdin into copy, then
# finally paste to stdout
copy() {
  if [ -t 0 ]; then
    cat $@ | pbcopy
    pbcopy < /dev/stdin

# and now alias paste to pbpaste, because gosh darnit!
alias paste=pbpaste

Now I can pipe commands to copy or pass it a filename:

$ ps | copy
# copies and shows output from `ps`
$ copy blog-post.md
# copies and shows contents of `blog-post.md` via `cat`

Caution: there is an existing paste command which this will overwrite. If you want to invoke the original command use command paste.

I hope that's useful. If you want to learn more, check out my terminal.training course.