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I like to use the xclip utility to capture the output of commands on the clipboard. However, when I try to use it with shell-command it seems to hang.

In a "normal" shell I can run a command such as echo "hello world" | xclip -selection clipboard and it will return almost immediately and copy hello world to the clipboard. When I try to run the same command from shell-command the command seems to "hang": the focus stays in the minibuffer and I can't do anything until I cancel the command with C-g. After cancelling the command the text has been copied to the clipboard though.

I'm running emacs 24.4.1 on Debian 8.6

Any idea why the xclip command hangs?

  • use xsel instead – chen bin Feb 23 '18 at 5:32
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xclip has to "hang" around to own the clipboard, as X uses asynchronous clipboards which belong to a process. You should be able to get away with just using async-shell-command, which is bound to M-& by default. Another solution would be to use some clipboard manager instead.

  • 4
    Doing some research on xsel led me to some other information that helped clarify things for me. The way xclip is implemented is that it forks a child to manage the copied data and stdout is kept open. It seems that stdout being kept open is the immediate cause for shell-command not returning. Redirecting stdout to /dev/null (e.g. hello world" | xclip -selection clipboard &> /dev/null) causes shell-command to return immediately as expected. – shay Feb 23 '18 at 15:40
  • This above comment is actually exactly what I needed to find out. Not emacs-specific and a very useful piece of information. Thanks! – rosuav Sep 25 at 6:42

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