I have began using Putty.exe on a university computer that is also connected to the university server. I have a pdb file saved in my Linux directory. Is it possible to save this pdb file onto the desktop of the current computer I am using so I can e-mail it to myself?

I would like to learn how to save Linux files onto my desktop (when using the university server). I have researched on my own and have found out that when you are using your own computer or personal laptop at home, I could potentially save a file (using command cp to copy it actually) to my desktop using a direct path however, I am having trouble completing this on a university server.


PuTTY should come with scp client pscp. You can use it from command line:

pscp user@host:source target

Where user and host refer to the server you are connecting to. Source is the path to the file on server, and target is path to where you want to save the file on your client.

If you are using Linux client, your system possibly already has scp installed. scp can be used with same syntax.

  • Ok, I understand how to find paths to other parts within your directories in Linux, but without giving away the answer (or command), is it possible to find the path to the desktop of the current computer you are using, in other words, can you access folders outside of linux? (For example, "My Documents" in Windows?) – Belle Oct 1 '18 at 17:02
  • You could open command line (cmd), navigate to directory you want to save the file and then execute \Path\To\pscp.exe user@host:source .; For finding user directory path on Windows, see this related question on SO about finding user directory on Windows. – sebasth Oct 1 '18 at 17:06
  • No you can't read out from remote computer to local (when using ssh (putty)). You need to run a putty command on the local machine, to go grab the file. You could do a ssh back from the remote to the local, but you seem to be using Microsoft's Windows (so you can't). – ctrl-alt-delor Oct 1 '18 at 18:22
  • @ctrl-alt-delor I was told about some program called Filezilla that can do this. Another classmate did the same! She used Filezilla to save a file she has saved in her Linux directory and then you could see the file on her desktop. (The desktop was on a university's computer) – Belle Oct 1 '18 at 20:51
  • If you have a MS-Windows file share, then you can mount it in Gnu/Linux (If it is visible from that machine). It may be better to ask the local IT-support team, at the university. – ctrl-alt-delor Oct 3 '18 at 15:36

Using SCP with pscp is a good option, as given by sebasth. SFTP with psftp is another option. You probably cannot install software on the university workstation, but you can probably download and execute Putty's psftp, which is "command-line secure file copy."

When you first start this program, it might look as follows.

psftp: no hostname specified; use "open host.name" to connect

Do this using the same credentials that you use for SSH. For example,

psftp> open server.university.edu

(Or, use its IP address if you don't have a hostname.)

Type help to view available commands. Of note, pay attention to lcd. The meaning is "local change directory." This changes the working directory of the program. When you download a file, the file will be downloaded into the working directory. One might use lpwd to print the local working directory. Also note that local commands can be executed with !. To get a local directory listing, type !dir. As an exercise, try these to get a feel for what is happening.

lcd \
lcd Users
lcd YourUserName
lcd Desktop

Now, get a directory listing on the remote side.


Use get to download a single file. Use mget to download multiple files at once, for example, mget a* to download all files beginning with the lower-case letter, a. (The uploads use put and mput.)

To end the SFTP session, type bye.

On a personal computer where you can install software, try any SFTP client. FileZilla. WinSCP. WinSSHFS. Or search for one you like best.

  • Great! This is my next step. Well, first step actually is to learn what SFTP is and then proceed from there. Thank you. – Belle Oct 1 '18 at 16:54
  • @Christopher SFTP is not FTP over SSH. It's often confused because they have superficial similarity from the user level but SFTP is a totally different protocol than FTP. – Lie Ryan Oct 3 '18 at 16:00
  • Note that SFTP needs to be enabled by the server admin for it to work. This is an advantage that SCP has over SFTP, as SCP is always available whenever you have shell access. – Lie Ryan Oct 3 '18 at 16:06

So I think that the answer that most directly answers you question is scp (pscp if using putty).

However another solution, is to install a revision control system, you should do this anyway, as they are very very useful. I recommend mercurial (hg) (others will recommend git, but it is much harder to learn).

  • Install tourtoisehg on both MS-windows, and Gnu/Linux,
    • on Debian/Ubuntu etc type sudo apt install tortoisehg-nautilus (and wait 2 minutes).
    • on MS-Windows goto https://tortoisehg.bitbucket.io/ download install (and wait ½ hour).
  • get an account at bit-bucket, and
  • learn how it works: There are many tutorials, I don't know which is best. If you can't find them, then ask, and I will direct you to some.

You can save the entire history of your project, so can undo changes from weeks ago (if you need to). You can also synchronise multiple computers via bitbucket.

  • I wish I could ask you to explain this like I'm 5. I can do this. Thank you. – Belle Oct 1 '18 at 20:53
  • @IsabelEstrellaSanchez Sorry but you last comment is confusing me. (it reads, I wish I could ask for help (yes you can do this), I already know how to do this). Are you asking for help? – ctrl-alt-delor Oct 3 '18 at 15:39

If you have a MS-Windows file share (probably in a university, as you need this for MS-Windows to have you files on every machine in the university), then you can mount it in Gnu/Linux (If it is visible from that machine: probably is if also in the university). It may be better to ask the local IT-support team, at the university, to find out how.

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