Signup/Sign In

How to Copy Paste File and Update User Group of File in Linux (install command)

In Linux, if we want to copy a file and set the file permissions without using the chmod command separately, we can use the install command.

The install command is used to copy files to a destination where we want to paste and set file permissions. If we want to download and install a ready-to-use package on a GNU/Linux system, we should use package managers like yum or apt-get.

In Linux, the install command is similar to the cp command but the install command provides more options to set the DESTINATION file properties directly without using chmod separately.

The general syntax of the install command is:

install [OPTION]... -t DIRECTORY SOURCE...
install [OPTION]... -d DIRECTORY...

There are four forms of install command.

The first three forms are used to copy the SOURCE to DESTINATION or multiple SOURCE to some existing DIRECTORY while setting the permission modes and owner/group.

But the fourth form is used to create all components of the given DIRECTORY.

Brief description of options available with the install command.

Options Description
--backup[=CONTROL] make a backup of each existing destination file
-b like --backup but does not accept an argument
-C, --compare compare each pair of source and destination files, in some cases, do not modify the destination at all
-d, --directory compare each pair of source and destination files, in some cases, do not modify the destination at all
-g, --group=GROUP Used to set group ownership, instead of processing the current group
-m, --mode=MODE set permission mode (as in chmod), instead of rwxr-xr-x
-o, --owner=OWNER set group ownership, instead of process current group
-t, -target-directory=Directory copy all SOURCE arguments into the Directory
-T, --no-target-directory tread DESTINATION as a normal file
--help display help and exit
--version output version information and exit

Let's see a few examples.

Copy and Paste a File into another Directory in Linux

In this example, we will copy a file textfile.txt from the shadow directory and paste it into the 'myfolder' directory.

install textfile.txt myfolder

If you run it on a Linux machine, it will look like this,

install textfile.txt myfolder

Copy Paste more than one File into a different directory in Linux

In this example, we will copy 3 files, namely, textfile.txt,, and hello.cnf files from some directory and paste them into the shadow/folder directory.

install textfile.txt hello.cnf shadow/myfolder

If you run it on a Linux machine, it will look like this,

install textfile.txt hello.cnf

Copy Paste File into another directory if the copied file already exists (use of -b option)

In this example, a file already exists in the myfolder directory with the name textfile.txt, and another file with the same name is copied and pasted into the myfolder directory. In this case, a backup file is automatically created for the previous file.

Here is the command,

install -b textfile.txt myfolder

Let's see how this command runs on Linux OS,

install -b textfile.txt myfolder

How to Change the group of a File in Linux?

If we want, we can use the install command to change the group for any file in linux.

To check the ownership for any file, you can run the following command:

ls -l

This command will return the access permissions for this file, user and user group too. (Check the image below to see the output for this command)

It is showing vikash as the user and user group.

But after copying file to the myfolder directory using the install command with --group = <group name> flag value, the group ownership of file is set to vash in the myfolder directory.

The install command used is this,

sudo install --group=vash myfolder

Here is the output when we run these commands on Linux OS,

install --group=vash myfolder

To know more about the install command, run the below command,

install --help

This is how it will run,

install --help

After executing this command, you will get to see all the information related to the install command with option and description displayed on the output screen.


In this tutorial, we covered how we copy and paste files to a destination folder and set file permissions using the install command with the various options available in the install command. The cp command is also used for the same purpose.

About the author:
Pradeep has expertise in Linux, Go, Nginx, Apache, CyberSecurity, AppSec and various other technical areas. He has contributed to numerous publications and websites, providing his readers with insightful and informative content.