Using SCP Aliases to Upload Files Quicker (OS X, BASH)

If like me, you have a particular path on a server you always upload files to, via SCP, then you’ll probably want a better way than typing the full path into the scp command everytime you upload a file!

This command has been tested on OS X, but there’s no reason it wouldn’t work on a Linux or BSD machine running BASH, either.

I personally have a “stuff” directory on a web server, where I put random files to share with people, but it’s path is pretty long on the remote web server, and I have to type it everytime I run the scp command – not quick or great!

There’s a way around it, though, by using bash aliases.  By editing the ~/.bash_profile file (.bash_profile in your home directory), we can alias common scp commands.

So, for example, if I have a file called screenshot.png and I want it to go to /var/www/stuff on a remote server called, I would normally have to do:

scp screenshot.png

This can get boring quick, especially if you do it a lot during the day.  We can, however, alias this to a command called whatever we want (take care though not to use an alias of an already existing command/application!)  So, if I wanted just a command of “scpstuff” I could do that by editing the ~/.bash_profile file by adding:

alias scpstuff="scp $1"

You will need to close the terminal and reopen it for the alias to take affect, after saving the file.

What this will do is, take the first argument to “scpstuff” (represented by $1), and run the command with it in, so, to upload something to the /var/www/stuff directory on, all I would need to do now is:

scpstuff screenshot.png

You will be prompted for your SSH password as normal (unless you use SSH keys) but it’s much quicker than typing the whole line out each time!

Of course, you could set up lots of aliases, such as scpstuff, scpimage, scpscreenshot – anything you do a lot would be useful!