Questions & Answers

How do I escape spaces in path for scp copy in Linux?

I want to copy a file from remote to local system. Now I'm using scp command in linux system. I have some folders or files names are with spaces, when I try to copy that file, it shows the error message: "No such file or directory".

I tried:

scp ael5105@'/home/5105/test/gg/Untitled Folder/a/qy.jpg' /var/www/try/

I saw the some reference online but I don't understand perfectly, can any one help on this?

how can I escape spaces in file name or directory names during copying...

2023-01-17 23:52:11
Double check that the file really exists. Put the quotes around the whole path, including the login name and ip address. Alternatively, remote the quotes and prepend the space with a backslash instead.
Answers(12) :


scp localhost:"f/a\ b\ c" .

scp localhost:'f/a\ b\ c' .

does not work

scp localhost:'f/a b c' .

The reason is that the string is interpreted by the shell before the path is passed to the scp command. So when it gets to the remote the remote is looking for a string with unescaped quotes and it fails

To see this in action, start a shell with the -vx options ie bash -vx and it will display the interpolated version of the command as it runs it.

2023-01-17 23:52:11
Using single quotes and escaping worked for me but not double quotes
2023-01-17 23:52:11
@MauricioTrajano take a look at all the quotes do different things. In the simple case above double " or single ' work the same

Basically you need to escape it twice, because it's escaped locally and then on the remote end.

There are a couple of options you can do (in bash):

scp"'web/tmp/Master File 18 10 13.xls'" .
scp"web/tmp/Master\ File\ 18\ 10\ 13.xls" .
scp\\\ File\\\ 18\\\ 10\\\ 13.xls .
2023-01-17 23:52:11
This is pretty minor, but on a Mac and in most console apps like Terminal, there is a 'Paste Escaped Text' option. I therefore used the second option.
2023-01-17 23:52:11
Here is a relevant question:…
2023-01-17 23:52:11
' " path " ' worked while " ' path ' " failed; conclusion single quotes first and then the double quotes to surround
2023-01-17 23:52:11
Wow! That's probably the single most ridiculous program behaviour I've seen!
2023-01-17 23:52:11
@jankes It isn't without merits. The fact that what you put there is a shell command argument allows you to do stuff like scp'$(ls -t | head -1)' . to get the most recently created file in the server, or scp'dir/*.{xml,pdf}' . to get all xml and pdf files from a remote directory. In general, I prefer this over having convenience with files that have spaces. Files with spaces are always a bother.
2023-01-17 23:52:11
why it is escape 2 times? any way to change this behavior?
2023-01-17 23:52:11
How does one know what shell is going to be used at the other end in order to know which quoting syntax to apply for the inner quoting? Should this method only be used in scripts where the script's author has control of the shell at the other end?
2023-01-17 23:52:11
scp"web/tmp/Master\ File\ 18\ 10\ 13.xls" . works
2023-01-17 23:52:11
If you get a "protocol error: filename does not match request" error, you might want to add option -T. See
2023-01-17 23:52:11
scp\\\ File\\\ 18\\\ 10\\\ 13.xls . it worked for me
2023-01-17 23:52:11
I also had to add the -T flag to scp due to a protocol error:
2023-01-17 23:52:11
@ChristopherShroba Thanks, I had to do the same. No combinations of quotes worked until I did that, though escaping spaces did work. (Using openssh-client 1:7.9p1-10 on Debian 11.)

Also you can do something like:

scp foo@bar:"\"apath/with spaces in it/\""

The first level of quotes will be interpreted by scp and then the second level of quotes will preserve the spaces.

2023-01-17 23:52:11
This answer is under-rated, considering how many spaces it can handle with the same amount of escape characters. Thanks!
2023-01-17 23:52:12
Way underrated. Does not require parsing and modifying the path!!!!

I had huge difficulty getting this to work for a shell variable containing a filename with whitespace. For some reason using:

file="foo bar/baz"

as in @Adrian's answer seems to fail.

Turns out that what works best is using a parameter expansion to prepend backslashes to the whitespace as follows:

file="foo bar/baz"
file=${file// /\\ }
2023-01-17 23:52:12
I would suggest the more robust 'substitute all' expansion: file="${file//\ /\\\ }"
2023-01-17 23:52:12
Forgot about that distinction -- I'm rusty on my parameter expansions. Thanks!
2023-01-17 23:52:12
I didn't have a variable but this satisfied me as a good alternative to 3 backslashes for a path with a lot of spaces. No one has time for that!
2023-01-17 23:52:12
Is there some reason that ${file//\ /\\\ } is better than ${file// /\\ }? Does that space need escaping for some reason?
2023-01-17 23:52:12
What if the path had a prefix like /home/user/folder/ followed by the file with spaces? I have to enclose the whole thing with double quotes and escaping the one around the $file doesn't work.
2023-01-17 23:52:12
@opello Nope, it was not necessary to escape the whitespace. Have fixed the answer.
2023-01-17 23:52:12
If you are really unlucky and have both backslashes and spaces in your filename, first escape the backslashes and then the spaces: file=${file//\\/\\\\};file=${file// /\\ }
2023-01-17 23:52:12
For me (on ubuntu) it worked by putting the quotes within the variable: export file='"foo bar/baz"' ; scp"$file" . That way I can avoid the substitution. Maybe that is worth including in the answer.

Use 3 backslashes to escape spaces in names of directories:

scp user@host:/path/to/directory\\\ with\\\ spaces/file ~/Downloads

should copy to your Downloads directory the file from the remote directory called directory with spaces.

2023-01-17 23:52:12
This is the only one that worked for me on Ubuntu 19.10. No double quotes, no soft and hard quotes in and out, no escaped quotes. Only tripplebackslashed spaces. Very weird. Thank you!
2023-01-17 23:52:12
Mind blown. I've never even heard of using triple backslashes. This was the only thing that worked for me on Ubuntu 18. Can someone explain why and when this became necessary? And if it's only for scp or are there other situations you need to use triple backslashes instead of just the one?
2023-01-17 23:52:12
See answer by @AdrianGunawan. It is escaped once on the local host and then a second time on the remote host. So \\\_ is escaped once to get \_ and then it is escaped another time to get a space _. I used _ to clearly represent a space.

Sorry for using this Linux question to put this tip for Powershell on Windows 10: the space char escaping with backslashes or surrounding with quotes didn't work for me in this case. Not efficient, but I solved it using the "?" char instead:

for the file "tasks.txt Jun-22.bkp" I downloaded it using "tasks.txt?Jun-22.bkp"

2023-01-17 23:52:12
Thank you. I came here looking for a Powershell solution and none of the above worked but this did.

scp ael5105@ /var/www/try/

the ? does a glob on the remote and will match any character, including a space

2023-01-17 23:52:12
i effin love you man

I encountered similar issues when trying to copy files from remote paths containing spaces using scp from within a Bash script.

Here are the solutions I came up with:

Escape paths manually:

scp user@host:'dir\ with\ spaces/file\ with\ spaces' <destination>
scp user@host:"dir\\ with\\ spaces/file\\ with\\ spaces" <destination>
scp user@host:dir\\\ with\\\ spaces/file\\\ with\\\ spaces <destination>

Note: does not require option -T (see below).

Use double-quoting + option -T:

scp -T user@host:"'<path-with-spaces>'" <destination>
scp -T user@host:'"<path-with-spaces>"' <destination>
scp -T user@host:"\"<path-with-spaces>\"" <destination>

Note: without option -T, these commands fail with protocol error: filename does not match request. The reason for this is discussed in detail here.

Escape path using Bash's printf:

printf -v source "%q" "${source}"
scp user@host:"${source}" <destination>

One-liner for shell use:

source="<path-with-spaces>"; printf -v source "%q" "${source}"; scp user@host:"${source}" <destination>

Note: works fine without option -T.

2023-01-17 23:52:12
Thank you for the printf solution. It's the only one that worked for me. I needed it for both source and destination. FYI, it's possible to put all in same line with ";"
2023-01-17 23:52:12
@SlimAloui You're welcome. Good suggestion, I added a one-liner for the printf alternative.

If the file or folder name is having space in between then you can simply add a black slash '' before the space and then put the whole path inside a single quotation ('') and it should work then.


Suppose the folder name is 'Test Folder' and it is inside /home/ in remote machine. Then you can access or download the folder using following scp command.

scp -r <user>@<host>:'/home/Test\ Folder' .

I'm new to Linux and I used Kali xD, here how's mine works: From your system to remote server if you want to transfer your file with single or multiple spaces:

$ scp this\ is\ my\ file tryhackme@

Note that the IP address is only example and the last I type is directory and the dollar sign which is the prompt, the code start with scp.

Also you can specifiy what name you want to that file when it is transfer, ex. /home/tryhackme/file1 or with single or multiple spaces like /home/tryhackme/"this\ is\ new\ file".

From remote server to your system, same as above with single or multiple spaces:

$ scp tryhackme@"remote\ server\ file" "this is mine now"

Note that you only use backward slash \\ to the file you want to copy, as you can see that the string "this is mine now" has no \\ because that is the name of the file we want when it transfer to our system and not the file that we want to secure copy (scp). Sorry for my explanation, I hope someone will understand, I hope this helps to someone who needs another solution.

In linux-terminal or cmd if there is any space in path between word you must use quotation ('') ("") mark.

you should something like this :

$ '/home/tryhackme'


$ /home/tryhackme

Just stick wildcards in where the spaces should be: 'foo/bar*bar.txt'