pbs - macOS

pbs: A Command-Line Tool for Setting and Getting Clipboard Contents on macOS


pbs is a command-line utility that allows you to interact with the macOS clipboard, enabling you to set, get, and manipulate its contents. It provides a powerful way to automate clipboard-related tasks and integrate them into your workflows.


pbs [options] [text]


  • -c, –copy: Copy the specified text to the clipboard.
  • -d, –delete: Clear the clipboard.
  • -g, –get: Output the current clipboard contents.
  • -h, –help: Display help information.
  • -v, –version: Display the program version.
  • -i, –stdin: Read text from standard input and copy it to the clipboard.
  • -o, –stdout: Output the clipboard contents to standard output.


Set Clipboard Contents:

pbs -c "Hello, world!"

Get Clipboard Contents:

pbs -g

Clear Clipboard:

pbs -d

Set Clipboard Contents from File:

cat sample.txt | pbs -i

Output Clipboard Contents to File:

pbs -g > output.txt

Common Issues

  • “Operation not permitted” error: Ensure you have granted pbs access to the Accessibility API in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility.
  • Clipboard not updating: Quit and relaunch pbs or the application that uses the clipboard.


  • Use pbs with other command-line tools for task automation, e.g., using pbpaste | pbs -i to copy the output of another command to the clipboard.
  • Integrate pbs into scripts and workflows to streamline clipboard-related operations, e.g., automatically pasting specific text upon login.

Related Commands

  • pbcopy: Copy text to the clipboard without displaying it.
  • pbpaste: Output the clipboard contents to standard output.
  • xclip: An alternative command-line tool for clipboard manipulation.