I am logged into a Mac (running OSX 10.12) over ssh and have entered the following commends.

rsync -a --delete-during $REMOTE/bin ~/
rsync -a --delete-during $REMOTE/Documents ~/

This works OK, and updates the appropriate directories.

I tried to include both directories in a single rsync using:-

rsync -a --delete-during $REMOTE/bin  $REMOTE/Documents ~/

This produces an error message (basically what I would get from rsync -h)

~$ rsync -a --delete-during $REMOTE/bin  $REMOTE/Documents ~/
rsync  version 2.6.9  protocol version 29
Copyright (C) 1996-2006 by Andrew Tridgell, Wayne Davison, and others.
Capabilities: 64-bit files, socketpairs, hard links, symlinks, batchfiles,
              inplace, IPv6, 64-bit system inums, 64-bit internal inums

I have studied the man files, which seem to support what I am trying, specifically

Usage: rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... DEST

While for these Directories there is no real reason I need to combine, for others I need to use a single SRC to maintain hardlinks.

Can anyone suggest what is wrong?

As suggested in muru's answer I installed brew.

  • The first line of the error might offer a hint. As it is, I am unable to reproduce. Works perfectly fine for me. – Patrick Jun 11 '18 at 2:48
  • Truck.app is an rsync client for Mac that comes with rsync 3.1.3 and will let you just drag and drop to do simple operations like this. bonhardcomputing.com/truck (disclaimer: I am a developer) – dave Feb 11 '19 at 4:34

The macOS version of rsync doesn't support multiple remote sources. Contrast the lines for remote sources in the macOS manpage:


With those for local sources:

rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... DEST
rsync [OPTION]... SRC [SRC]... [USER@]HOST::DEST

And with those in the Ubuntu manpage for remote sources:

Access via remote shell:
 Pull: rsync [OPTION...] [USER@]HOST:SRC... [DEST]
 Push: rsync [OPTION...] SRC... [USER@]HOST:DEST

The lack of ellipsis in the first set indicates that multiple remote source locations aren't supported by the macOS version of rsync.

On Ubuntu 16.04:

~ rsync --version
rsync  version 3.1.2  protocol version 31
Copyright (C) 1996-2015 by Andrew Tridgell, Wayne Davison, and others.

macOS rsync is an antique. Update with homebrew or similar:

~ brew info rsync
rsync: stable 3.1.3 (bottled)
Utility that provides fast incremental file transfer
/usr/local/Cellar/rsync/3.1.3_1 (9 files, 756.1KB) *
  Poured from bottle on 2018-06-11 at 12:38:53
From: https://github.com/Homebrew/homebrew-core/blob/master/Formula/rsync.rb
==> Dependencies
Build: autoconf ✔
| improve this answer | |
  • This seems to be the case (although I don't entirely understand the man AND the error could be clearer!) For those cases where it is essential I I will initiate from the other end, although this makes the cases where sudo is needed difficult. – Milliways Jun 11 '18 at 6:12
  • I have never been comfortable with brew, and as this is not my Mac, I am reluctant to modify system software. – Milliways Jun 11 '18 at 6:13
  • Brew installs to /usr/local/bin. The system rsync remains untouched in /usr/bin if you ever need it. – muru Jun 11 '18 at 6:14
  • OK, I installed brew on my own Mac, then brew install rsync - now how do I run it? rsync --version still shows 2.6.9 – Milliways Jun 11 '18 at 6:43
  • @Milliways probably this: apple.stackexchange.com/a/281116/205028 – muru Jun 11 '18 at 6:44

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