Aug 242012

Sometimes, you just need to get a list of filenames into Management Studio. I typically need this when choosing files to restore for non-production backups, but there’s plenty of possible uses.

The easiest way I’ve found of getting a list of files into SSMS (or any other editor) is via the clipboard, specifically using clip.exe, found in C:\Windows\System32 on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.

Clip.exe allows you to pipe any cmd.exe or Powershell output directly into the clipboard, without having to copy out of the console window. For example, we have the following directory with 5 long filenames:

 Volume in drive D is Seagate 2TB
 Volume Serial Number is E6B1-FEB0

 Directory of D:\SQLBackup

24/08/2012  04:39 AM    <DIR>          .
24/08/2012  04:39 AM    <DIR>          ..
16/08/2012  09:39 PM       193,052,672 AdventureWorks_Full_20120806_1833.bak
16/08/2012  09:39 PM       193,052,672 AdventureWorks_Full_20120807_1834.bak
16/08/2012  09:39 PM        93,052,672 Northwind_Full_20120806_1830.bak
16/08/2012  09:39 PM        93,122,304 Northwind_Full_20120807_1834.bak
16/08/2012  09:39 PM        23,052,672 Pubs_Full_20120806_1833.bak
               6 File(s)    965,333,176 bytes
               2 Dir(s)  1,417,170,239,488 bytes free

By using dir’s /b (bare format) switch, and piping the results to clip.exe, we get:

dir /b | clip

Of course, you can use any filter on the dir command, to show all .bak files for a specific date (based on filename):

dir *20120806*.bak /b | clip

The results are now in the clipboard, and can be pasted into any application:


In Powershell, you can use the following (where “dir” can be replaced with gci, ls, or Get-ChildItem):

dir *20120806*.bak -name | clip

But I’m on Windows Server 2003!

If you don’t have clip.exe available, you can get similar functionality by adding one extra step – redirecting the output to a text file, from where you can easily cut and paste. Note that using the “start” command will allow you to use whichever program is set as the default for .txt files.

The cmd version is:

dir *20120806*.bak /b > tmp.txt
start tmp.txt

Powershell allows you to keep the entire contents on a single line:

dir *20120806*.bak -name > tmp.txt; start tmp.txt

Remember to go back and delete tmp.txt.

That’s it!

It’s a simple trick, but one that can be incredibly useful, and well worth a place in your toolbox.

  One Response to “Copy a directory listing to the clipboard using clip.exe”

  1. Good one. Thanks for sharing. !


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