When I try to use the command get from sftp, I get the error saying that it is not a normal file. Is there a way around this?

  • I think you're right... it is a duplicate... but the answer given by @uther is more thorough than the answer given before to the other question... Is there a way to post his answer onto the other question. Since my question is so similarly, feel free to delete my question but please repost his answer on the other question.
    – Paul
    May 23, 2012 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


You can connect to the host using sftp -r and then get the directory. If you forget to use -r when you connect, you can use get -r.

sftp -r me@somehost


sftp> get -r tmp/
Fetching /home/me/tmp/ to tmp
Retrieving /home/me/tmp
/home/me/new.orig.dmp            100%  417KB 416.8KB/s   00:00    
/home/me/untangle.dmp        100%  398KB 398.3KB/s   00:00    
/home/me/repos.orig.dmp          100%  415KB 415.2KB/s   00:00    
/home/me/me-untangle.dmp 100%   32KB  32.4KB/s   00:00    

If you want to always ensure you pass -r to sftp, add it as an alias to your ~/.bashrc or similar.

alias sftp="sftp -r"

From man 1 sftp

 -r      Recursively copy entire directories when uploading and download‐
         ing.  Note that sftp does not follow symbolic links encountered
         in the tree traversal.

 get [-Ppr] remote-path [local-path]
         If either the -P or -p flag is specified, then full file permis‐
         sions and access times are copied too.
         If the -r flag is specified then directories will be copied
         recursively.  Note that sftp does not follow symbolic links when
         performing recursive transfers.
  • 2
    why does not my sftp client didn't has a -r option? >>>>>sftp: illegal option -- r
    – C.C.
    Sep 16, 2012 at 16:59
  • 1
    sftp: illegal option -- r on CentOS 6.4 openssh-clients-5.3p1-84.1.el6.x86_64 Nov 5, 2013 at 1:25
  • in my ubuntu OS , its working. Apr 17, 2015 at 7:08

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