Since I'm often copying a varying number of specific files to a (rather convoluted) destination directory over the network, my life would be so much easier if I could use cp's -t flag: With it, you can specify the target directory "at the beginning"—and not as the final argument.

That way, I could CTRL-R to my copy command and then CTRL-W the previously copied files, all the while leaving the (complex) setup and destination destination system and directory no matter how many files there were earlier.

But I can't find any fitting flags, neither for scp nor for rsync. (I'd use either, if one of them offered this option.)

Do either scp or rsync offer anything akin to cp -t?

In my desperation, I've even toyed around with bash's history control, the argument extraction mechanisms in particular: Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be possible to specify ranges in the form of "the x-th argument to the last-but-one", which I would need since I don't always have the number of arguments (unless I count…).

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    Mount the remote destination via sshfs and use cp with your -t flag :) – ivanivan Nov 17 '17 at 4:14
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    Write your command using variables, then just change the variable value and recall the (unchanged) command. f='a b' and scp ... $f ... then f='c d e' and recall (assuming no whitespace in filenames). But a small function is best, as in answer by Olorin. – meuh Nov 17 '17 at 7:49

Maybe you can define a function that wraps around scp:

scpt () {
    scp "$@" user@host:/some/convoluted/path

And then do

scpt file1
scpt /dir1/file2

Also, with history interaction, you can get the last argument of the previous scp command with !scp:$, so you could also do:

scp /dir1/file2 !scp:$

(since the target directory is usually the last)

  • Thanks, that's probably the "easiest" way to solve all my troubles. I hadn't thought of using !scp:$; not sure if it's universal enough in my case, but still good advice! – NicApicella Nov 17 '17 at 10:40

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