I was wondering if there are shortcuts for selecting some text in terminal, just similar to holding shift and type arrow key in editing a text file in a text editor. Thanks!

3 Answers 3


I'm assuming you are referring to Gnome Terminal.

No - there isnt a Copy and Paste mechanism using just the keyboard - you can use various short-cuts to paste (depending upon your Ubuntu version) i.e. CTRL+ Shift + Ins , Shift + Ins or CTRL+ Shift + V to paste text in the clipboard.

However, if you type screen you enter the terminal emulator which allows you to select, copy and paste text using just the keyboard.

To select (copy):

Press Ctrl + A together followed by Escape. This puts you into Copy mode. Using the cursor keys move to the beginning of the text you want to copy. Press Enter. Now move to the end of the text to be copied. Press Enter.

To Paste:

Press Ctrl + A together followed by ].

  • 7
    My question is more about selecting text not about copying and pasting.
    – Tim
    Jul 30, 2011 at 23:18
  • 2
    I prefer using keys to select text instead of using mouse or touchpad.
    – Tim
    Jul 30, 2011 at 23:24
  • 1
    Thanks! In a text editor, one can select text by pressing down SHIFT, and simultaneously pressing -> or <- keys. But in gnome terminal, this will not work.
    – Tim
    Aug 2, 2011 at 17:26
  • 2
    how complicated for such a simple task... I'm disappointed :(
    – Juh_
    Oct 29, 2014 at 10:26
  • 1
    I'm curious: why would you want to select text, if not to copy/paste...?
    – rsenna
    Jan 30, 2018 at 21:18

A bit late for the party but yes there is a way.

  1. Replace the rodent with number pad navigation.

    Settings -> Universal Access -> Pointing & Clicking -> Enable Mouse Keys

    You can now use the 4 to go left, 8 to go up, 5 to click etc. (make sure NumLock is OFF).

    NOTE: For this to work you need a NumberPad.

  2. Moving the mouse with the number pad is going to be dog slow so lets fix that next. See man page for xkbset for details.

    sudo apt-get install xkbset

    xkbset ma 60 10 10 5 2

    Now you should be able to use the NumberPad to move your cursor at a reasonable speed, so move it to the terminal where you want to select the text.

  3. To select the text in the terminal to the right of the pointer:


    This is equivalent to mouse click=5, go right=6

    To select to the right of the cursor:



In gnome-terminal running bash as default shell, you can hit c-x twice (c- same as ctrl-) to select the last typed text.

Refer to bash reference for more.

  • This doesn't seem to answer the question. To me it seems clear that the OP wants to be able to select any text in the terminal in the same way as you would be able to with a mouse - not just copy a previous input.
    – Elliott
    Aug 30, 2021 at 7:59

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