How to Directly Copy/Paste Images to/from Clipboard in Ubuntu Nautilus

How to Directly Copy/Paste Images To/From Clipboard in Ubuntu Nautilus

Suppose you are editing an image on your Ubuntu PC, and you wnt to save it midway (with the editing done so far) to then continue with the rest of editing. What would you do in this case? The most common and obvious answer would be to use the “Save As” option from the editor’s File menu, and save the image at the location of your choice. Right?

While there’s no problem with this approach, per se, it may get a bit frustrating if you are required to perform this action again and again. So is there a better, more convenient option? Indeed – say hello to nautilus-copypaste-images, a Nautilus plugin that will make life easier for you.

Note: this article assumes you are using Nautilus, the default file manager in Ubuntu.


As already mentioned, nautilus-copypaste-images is a plugin for the Nautilus file manager. Its unique selling point is that it lets you copy and paste images to/from the clipboard, meaning you can copy an image file kept in a directory on your file system and directly paste it into the image editor you use. This means there’s no need to go to “File -> Open” in the image editor.

Conversely, the plugin also lets you copy an image that’s being edited and paste it as an image file anywhere on the file system. Basically, the plugin is aimed at bringing convenience to the regular copy/paste operations involving images.

Download and Install

To download and install the “nautilus-copypaste-images” plugin, execute the following commands:

 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/nautilus-extensions
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get install nautilus-copypaste-images

Once the above three commands are successfully executed, the plugin will be installed. To activate it you need to restart Nautilus file manager by running the following command:

nautilus -q

To verify that the plugin is active do a right click, and you’ll see a new option that reads “CopyPaste Images.”


For version-related and other information, click the “About” sub-option – a window similar to the following should appear.



The first example is that you want to copy an image file and paste it directly into your image editor window. Here’s how you do it with the “nautilus-copypaste-images” plugin:

1. Right-click on the image you want to copy, and click the “Copy image” sub-option under the “CopyPaste Images” option menu.


2. In the image editor window (GIMP in my case), just select the “Paste” option from the menu (or press “Ctrl + V”).


The image you copied will be pasted to your image editor.


Now suppose you want to do the exact opposite, meaning copy an image from editor and paste it as a file into a directory.

1. Copy the image opened in your editor. For example, in my case I made some changes to the image we just copied in GIMP and then copied the edited image by selecting the “copy” option present in GIMP’s Edit menu.


2. Go to the directory where you want to paste the copied image. Do a right-click there, and select the “Paste image” sub-option present under the “CopyPaste Images” option menu.


3. You’ll now be asked to enter a name for the file and select the destination directory.


Once you provide the said information and click the Open button, the image you copied from your editor will be saved as a normal file in the directory of your choice.

Note: Interestingly, the “Paste image” sub-option only appears when you right-click on a file or directory icon, meaning if you do a right-click in an empty space (like we do normally), you won’t see the sub-option. I am not sure if this is a bug or if there’s a reason behind this behavior.


The “nautilus-copypaste-images” plugin doesn’t offer many features, but it does what it promises – makes image copy-paste operations less complicated. The plugin might have a limited audience, but it’s nevertheless a useful one. If your work involves a lot of image editing, and you think you might benefit from the plugin, I’d encourage you to go ahead and install it.

Himanshu Arora
Himanshu Arora

Himanshu Arora is a freelance technical writer by profession but a software programmer and Linux researcher at heart. He covers software tutorials, reviews, tips/tricks, and more. Some of his articles have been featured on IBM developerworks, ComputerWorld, and in Linux Journal.

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