Share via

Copy task

Copies files to a new location in the file system.


The following table describes the parameters of the Copy task.

Parameter Description
CopiedFiles Optional ITaskItem[] output parameter.

Contains the items that were successfully copied, including those that were not actually copied, but were skipped because they were already up-to-date and SkipUnchangedFiles was true.
DestinationFiles Optional ITaskItem[] parameter.

Specifies the list of files to copy the source files to. This list is expected to be a one-to-one mapping with the list specified in the SourceFiles parameter. That is, the first file specified in SourceFiles will be copied to the first location specified in DestinationFiles, and so forth.
DestinationFolder Optional ITaskItem parameter.

Specifies the directory to which you want to copy the files. This must be a directory, not a file. If the directory does not exist, it is created automatically.
OverwriteReadOnlyFiles Optional Boolean parameter.

Overwrite files even if they are marked as read only files
Retries Optional Int32 parameter.

Specifies how many times to attempt to copy, if all previous attempts have failed. Defaults to zero.

Caution: The use of retries can mask a synchronization problem in your build process.

Note: While the task default is zero retries, uses of the task often pass $(CopyRetryCount) which is nonzero by default.
RetryDelayMilliseconds Optional Int32 parameter.

Specifies the delay between any necessary retries. Defaults to the RetryDelayMillisecondsDefault argument, which is passed to the CopyTask constructor.
SkipUnchangedFiles Optional Boolean parameter.

By default, false. If set to true, skips the copying of files that are unchanged between the source and destination. The Copy task considers files to be unchanged if they have the same size and the same last modified time.

Note: If you set this parameter to true, you should not use dependency analysis on the containing target, because that only runs the task if the last-modified times of the source files are newer than the last-modified times of the destination files.
SourceFiles Required ITaskItem[] parameter.

Specifies the files to copy.
UseHardlinksIfPossible Optional Boolean parameter.

If true, creates hard links for the copied files instead of copying the files.
UseSymbolicLinksIfPossible Optional Boolean parameter.

If true, creates symbolic links for the copied files rather than copy the files, if it's possible to do so.


Warnings are logged, including:

  • Copy.DestinationIsDirectory

  • Copy.SourceIsDirectory

  • Copy.SourceFileNotFound

  • Copy.CreatesDirectory

  • Copy.HardLinkComment

  • Copy.RetryingAsFileCopy

  • Copy.FileComment

  • Copy.RemovingReadOnlyAttribute


Either the DestinationFolder or the DestinationFiles parameter must be specified, but not both. If both are specified, the task fails and an error is logged.

In addition to the parameters listed above, this task inherits parameters from the TaskExtension class, which itself inherits from the Task class. For a list of these additional parameters and their descriptions, see TaskExtension base class.

Example 1

The following example copies the items in the MySourceFiles item collection into the folder c:\MyProject\Destination.

<Project xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">

        <MySourceFiles Include="a.cs;b.cs;c.cs"/>

    <Target Name="CopyFiles">


Example 2

The following example demonstrates how to do a recursive copy. This project copies all of the files recursively from c:\MySourceTree into c:\MyDestinationTree, while maintaining the directory structure.

<Project xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">

    <Target Name="CopyFiles">
            <!-- Because this ItemGroup is inside the target, this will enumerate
                 all files just before calling Copy. If the ItemGroup were outside
                 the target , it would enumerate the files during evaluation, before
                 the build starts, which may miss files created during the build. -->
            <MySourceFiles Include="c:\MySourceTree\**\*.*"/>



See also