Is there a way to have terminal applications (gnome-terminal, terminator, etc) automatically move selected text to the CLIPBOARD system buffer, and not just the PRIMARY (i.e. terminal-local) buffer?

I found this which describes the primitives, but not to the extent that I could make the behavior change: primary / clipboard intro...

I've got a specific hosted VM use case where I'm very frequently copying text from a bash or vim session in the linux guest back to the windows host... and after 20 years of linux I'm so used to the buffer "just being there" that I'm trying to replicate that behavior...

2 Answers 2


The primary is not local to the terminal, you can paste it in other X applications by using the middle mouse button.

What you should install is autocutsel:

Autocutsel tracks changes in the server's cutbuffer and CLIPBOARD selection. When the CLIPBOARD is changed, it updates the cutbuffer. When the cutbuffer is changed, it owns the CLIPBOARD selection.

On my Ubuntu 12.04 system I can just install this with apt-get install autocutsel, your distro might have it as well.

  • This is exactly what I needed. I have to assume that my other environments had this turned on somewhere by default, as I'd never had to explicitly enable it. Once I knew what to look for finding this helped.
    – ljwobker
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 23:59

Some clipboard managers provide this function. xfce4-clipman is a good example, it will also work not only in Xfce, but on any Desktop Environment. From its help page:

Sync selections: Sync the primary clipboard with the default clipboard in a way that it is possible to paste what gets selected

Clipman options

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