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I want to simulate keyboard input so that I can "paste" my clipboard contents to applications that don't allow it (e.g. remote KVM). Right now, I'm trying to use xdotool and xclip:

xdotool type "$(xclip -o)"

This command works if I stay in a terminal window, and type that command myself. It types back my clipboard contents when I run the command. My goal is to bind this command to a hotkey, so that it works in any application.

Linux Sendkeys

If I use this hotkey, unexpected behavior occurs to whatever window has focus. e.g. my terminal window size shrinks (it's somewhat amusing, actually). Similar results occur if I save it as a script and call the script, or if I encapsulate the command with sh -c. How can I make practical use of the powerful xdotool type command?

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  • That's because the command will be run in a background terminal, you are doing nothing wrong. A terminal will "pop out" without you see it, then will execute this command, then leave. – Evandro Silva Nov 5 '12 at 12:17
  • Did you try putting it in a script and keybinding the script ? Or did you try keybinding sh -c 'xdotool type "$(xclip -o)"' instead ? – user55822 Nov 5 '12 at 17:11
  • Thanks for the ideas @user55822. I had the same results using a script. I saw more unexpected behavior when I used sh -c (gedit opening new tabs). Oddly, it stopped doing anything after I tried different hotkeys. – isuldor Nov 5 '12 at 23:16
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You have two problems with this command. The first is that you need to make sure that the meta-keys in the binding are not pressed when it tries to run the command. Second, by default xclip selects XA_Primary buffer rather than the XA_CLIPBOARD. So you should pass clipboard as the selection parameter for xclip. Change your hotkey command to the following:

sh -c 'sleep 0.5; xdotool type "$(xclip -o -selection clipboard)"'
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  • This does seem to work quite reliably. – isuldor Nov 17 '12 at 5:27
  • This is so useful for websites that disallow pasting passwords, thanks! – Vance Palacio Jan 8 at 5:23
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xdotool creates keypresses, and it won't release the Ctrl key for you... The simplest solution is to add a delay, eg sleep 0.5 to wait for half a second, and to make sure you release Ctrl fast enough.

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  • Great idea. xdotool type "Hello World!" mostly works for me now. It oddly doesn't work for a few seconds after I use it, but that's not really a huge problem. The xclip output isn't working yet, but I'll try to figure out why. Thanks. – isuldor Nov 13 '12 at 3:58
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sh -c 'xdotool type --clearmodifiers -- "$(xclip -o -selection clipboard)"'

"--clearmodifiers" gets rid of CTRL/ALT/Shift etc, hopefully meaning the sleep is not required

"--" means end of xdotool options so that if the pasted test begins with - xdotool will not try to interpret it as an option

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Actually there are two buffers accessible with Ctrl+V (the clipboard copy-paste) and Shift+Insert (the mouse mark and middle-click paste).

If you have the sessions appropriately connected to share clipboard, then one of the two should work automatically, no?

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  • I need input automation because I often use remote KVM to access machines (Raritan and IPMI). Usually to install an OS or because networking is broken on the machine. – isuldor Nov 16 '12 at 13:44

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