I recently moved to Mac. I am missing my X11 copy-paste style. I can't find a way to exactly emulate X11 behavior "select-to-copy", "middle-click-to-paste" globally on Mac OS X. I am aware that this issue has been around for a long time, yet I can't find any real killer solution.

The best thing I found is in Can I copy by highlighting and paste by middle click on Mac OS X?. All suggested solutions try to find out a way to paste text from the clipboard with a middle click. Yet, nobody has a real solution for automatically copying the highlighted text.

I am wondering if there can be a way to automate the copying of highlighted text. Even if I should write a daemon to do it. Any pointers on where to start thinking will be great.

  • In which application you want this behaviour? If you want it for terminals just install iTerm2
    – number5
    Mar 18, 2015 at 23:13

1 Answer 1


I don't have the points to comment so I'm sticking my neck out by writing this as an answer. This is intended more of a comment towards the "point me in the right direction" request. Please don't decapitate me.

I would suggest looking at Lingon X by Peter Borg for creating/managing launchd jobs/daemons etc.

With Controllermate you can create very fine-grained conditions to trigger an action, things like time, key down, key up etc, frequency etc. It can control input devices such as keyboards trackpads, mouses wacom tablets and even midi devices. Since it can read this and alter it, concievably it might be possible to get the behavior you're after - to copy highlighted text. It also interfaces with Applescript, can run Shell scripts etc. It also distinguishes between applications (even detecting whether it is in the background or in the foreground), so you can arrange for special cases where one rogue app does something a different way you can factor that in. It's robust software.

Karabiner is a powerful rebinding software package that plunges deep, capable of changing or even disabling function or modifier keys. However, note that you will not be able to make changes to bindings in Controllermate while Karabiner is installed.

That's what I've got for you right now. Hopefully it is of use.


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