This happens whether I use ctrl+shift+v or paste from the right-click menu.

What could be done to prevent this behavior?

  • More explanation required to understand your question
    – SHW
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 8:50
  • Maybe ConEmu on Windows does what you want - when you try to paste something that contains newlines, it will warn you before proceeding. It's kind of a nice touch. Maybe there's a Linux terminal emulator that has this feature?
    – Brandin
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 8:55
  • 5
    I bet you copy the trailing "\n" (newline character, you will not see on your text but it is present if you have a line break) when you copy your text, that will emulate a press on ENTER key, hence executing the command.
    – herbert
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 9:13
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of this - unix.stackexchange.com/questions/202732/… I didn't know about "bracketed paste" mentioned in that question. I usually use a text editor in combination with the terminal and then carefully copy/paste the parts that I want into the terminal.
    – Brandin
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 9:26

5 Answers 5


Don't copy multiple lines of text, to paste. I can almost guarantee you're simply copying the last part of the line. If you're triple clicking to copy that line of code you're pasting, you're getting the newline at the end of the line. If you want to be sure, that is really the problem, then copy the entire line, except for the last letter/digit, and see if pasting that also includes a newline.

  • This only happened when I copied multiple lines of code. Now I understand why.
    – LostSoul
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 13:29
  • Update: It seems modern distros no longer have this specific problem anymore. This is a very welcome change. Now when I paste multiple lines into a command prompt, it no longer processes the newline, and gives me a chance to edit things, before I hit <enter>. It will also submit multiple new lines, so that may be useful, but probably not.
    – WormFood
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 19:09

The text you're pasting includes a trailing newline. When you paste a newline, the shell running in the terminal sees that as pressing Enter, so it executes the command.

The paste operation is performed by the terminal emulator; it passes the pasted text to the application running in the terminal, in the same way that it passes the text typed by the user. See How do keyboard input and text output work? for more information about how input works. The application (here, the shell) has no way to distinguish between keystrokes and a paste operation.

Many terminal emulators these days support bracketed paste. In bracketed paste mode, the application can distinguish a paste operation from keystrokes. Bracketed paste is only useful if the application does something different with pasted text, so it's enabled by supporting applications, it isn't something that's configured by the user of the terminal emulator.

Zsh 5.1 (which came out a few weeks ago, so isn't available yet in most distributions) adds support for bracketed paste mode. When you paste text, it's just inserted on the command line, and you can edit it before pressing Enter to execute the command line.

Users of oh-my-zsh can use the safe-paste plugin even in earlier versions of zsh.

Another thing you can do in zsh is to make it insert the selection as a string, with quoting (in the form of backslashes before every shell special character such as whitespace). Type `xsel` to get the primary selection (automatic mouse selection), or `xsel -b` to get the clipboard content (text copied with Ctrl+C), then press Tab.

If you have an older zsh version and you want to insert the clipboard content without quoting, you can define a function that inserts the selection.

function zle_insert_x_selection {
  LBUFFER+=$(xsel ${NUMERIC+-b} -o </dev/null)
zle -N zle_insert_x_selection
bindkey '\e\C-v' zle_insert_x_selection

With this in your .zshrc, you can press Ctrl+Alt+V to insert the primary selection, or Ctrl+U Ctrl+Alt+V to insert the clipboard content. They are inserted before the cursor, unchanged except with no trailing newline. See Share the clipboard between bash and X11 for something similar in bash.


If you're using bash as your shell, you can press Ctrl-X Ctrl-E to bring up an editor (defined by $VISUAL or $EDITOR, e.g. vi or perhaps nano).

You can then paste your commands into that exactly as you would if you were editing a file. They will be executed if you save and exit. Or cancelled if you quit without saving.

  • This method does not work for me.
    – LostSoul
    Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 3:00

To do a multi-line paste onto a command prompt, open single or double quotes before pasting.

$ echo 'paste
... '

Then you can press return to echo it. When you up-arrow, all the lines you pasted will be on one editable line.

This works as long as there isn't a single quote in the text you paste.


In a text editor window, use following shortcuts to copy text without \n (the line feed):

  • Shift+Home, Ctrl+Insert – copies part of the line before the cursor.
  • Shift+End, Ctrl+Insert – copies part of the line after the cursor.
  • Home, Shift+End, Ctrl+Insert – copies all the line without \n.

In a browser window, or another thing where the text isn’t editable use one of two techniques:

  • Copy to a text editor first (preferred, as gives you a chance to edit commands).
  • Select only the text on the line (without extending the selection zone rightwards beyond the last character), then Ctrl+Insert and paste to a terminal window.

How a right selection (without \n) looks:

ls -al

How a wrong selection (with \n) looks:

ls -al

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