Scripting and Task Automation

This article contains detailed description of scripting/automation functionality. You may want to see simplified guide to the functionality instead.

In addition to graphical interface, WinSCP offers scripting/console interface with many commands. The commands can be typed in interactively, or read from script file or another source.

Using scripting interface directly is recommended for simple tasks not requiring any control structures. For complex tasks, using WinSCP .NET assembly is preferred.


Using Scripting

Enter the console/scripting mode by using; or /console command-line parameter with winscp.exe. For details see console/scripting command-line parameters.

For automation, commands can be read from a script file specified by /script switch, passed from the command-line using the /command switch, or read from standard input of

The script file must use UTF-8 or UTF-16 (with BOM) encoding.

When running commands specified using /script or /command, batch mode is used implicitly and overwrite confirmations are turned off. In an interactive scripting mode, the user is prompted in the same way as in GUI mode. To force batch mode (all prompts are automatically answered negatively) use the command option batch abort. For batch mode it is recommended to turn off confirmations using option confirm off to allow overwrites (otherwise the overwrite confirmation prompt would be answered negatively, making overwrites impossible).

Multiple sessions can be opened simultaneously. Use the session command to switch between them.

Note that the first connection to an SSH server requires verification of the host key. Also the first connection to FTPS or WebDAVS host with certificate signed by untrusted authority requires verification of the certificate.


Checking Results

WinSCP executables return exit code 1 when any command is interrupted due to an error or any prompt is answered Abort (even automatically in batch mode). Otherwise it returns the exit code 0.

To further analyze results of scripted operations, you will find XML logging useful.

For more details, refer to How do I know that script completed successfully?

Commands Syntax

All WinSCP commands have syntax:

command -switch -switch2 parameter1 parameter2 ... parametern

Command Parameters with Spaces

Command parameters that include space(s) have to be surrounded by double-quotes. To use double-quote literally, double it:

put "file with spaces and ""quotes"".html"

Note that when you are specifying commands on command-line using /command, you need to surround each command by double-quote and escape the in-command double-quotes by doubling them.

To debug the quoting, enable session logging on level Debug 1 (/loglevel=1). The log will show how WinSCP understands both your command-line and individual scripting commands.

Environment Variables

You can use environment variables in the commands, with syntax %NAME%:1


Note that variable expansion is different than in Windows batch files:


WinSCP automatically resolves %TIMESTAMP[rel]#format% to a real time (optionally to a past or future time) with the given format. The format may include yyyy for year, mm for month, dd for day, hh for hour, nn for minute and ss for second. For example, the %TIMESTAMP#yyyy-mm-dd% resolves to 2016-06-22 on 22 June 2016. See other formats you can use.


The optional rel part, with syntax [-+]time[YDHNS], produces past (-) or future (+) timestamps. One of the following units must be used: Y (years), D (days), H (hours), N (minutes) or S (seconds). For example, the %TIMESTAMP-1D#yyyy-mm-dd% (the -1D meaning one day in the past) resolves to 2016-06-21 on 22 June 2016.

To use %TIMESTAMP...% on a command-line in a batch file, you need to escape the % by doubling it to %%TIMESTAMP...%%, to avoid a batch file interpreter trying to resolve the variable.

Script Arguments

You can reference script arguments (passed on command-line using parameter /parameter) using syntax %N%, where N is ordinal number of argument:1

put "%1%"

Case Sensitivity of File Names

Note that WinSCP treats filenames in case sensitive manner. So even if your server treats filenames in case insensitive manner, make sure you specify case properly.2


To insert comments into the script file, start the line with # (hash):

# Connect to the server
open mysession


The following commands are implemented.

To see help for the command, read respective documentation article below or type command help <command> directly in console.

Command Description
call Executes arbitrary remote shell command
cd Changes remote working directory
checksum Calculates checksum of remote file
chmod Changes permissions of remote file
close Closes session
cp Duplicates remote file
echo Prints message onto script output
exit Closes all sessions and terminates the program
get Downloads file from remote directory to local directory
help Displays help
keepuptodate Continuously reflects changes in local directory on remote one
lcd Changes local working directory
lls Lists the contents of local directory
ln Creates remote symbolic link
lpwd Prints local working directory
ls Lists the contents of remote directory
mkdir Creates remote directory
mv Moves or renames remote file
open Connects to server
option Sets or shows value of script options
put Uploads file from local directory to remote directory
pwd Prints remote working directory
rm Removes remote file
rmdir Removes remote directory
session Lists connected sessions or selects active session
stat Retrieves attributes of remote file
synchronize Synchronizes remote directory with local one


The Console Interface Tool

Learn about, the console interface tool.

Verifying the Host Key or Certificate in Script

The first connection to an SSH server requires verification of the host key. To automate the verification in script, use -hostkey switch of open command to accept the expected host key automatically.

You can find the key fingerprint on Server and Protocol Information Dialog. You can also copy the key fingerprint to clipboard from the confirmation prompt on the first (interactive) connection using Copy key fingerprints to clipboard command (in the script, use SHA-256 fingerprint of the host key only). Learn more about obtaining host key fingerprint.

FTPS/WebDAVS TLS/SSL certificate signed by untrusted authority may also need to be verified. To automate the verification in script, use -certificate switch of open command to accept the expected certificate automatically.

Running a Script under a Different Account (e.g., Using a Scheduler)

If you are going to run the script under a different account (for example using the Windows Task Scheduler), make sure the script does not rely on a configuration settings that might differ on the other account. When using registry as configuration storage, the settings are accessible only for your Windows account. Ideally, make sure the script does not rely on any external configuration, to make it completely portable. Note that the configuration also includes verified SSH host keys and FTPS/WebDAVS TLS/SSL certificates.

For details, see the next section and Why WinSCP does not work in a new environment (operating system, machine, user account, network), when it works for me in a different environment already?

Sharing Configuration with Graphical Mode

In scripting/console mode, WinSCP shares configuration with graphical mode by default. While this can be useful in some cases, it can also be a disadvantage.

The disadvantage is that change to configuration in graphical mode may break your script (common example is enabling Existing files only option for synchronization). Also the script is not portable to other machines, when it relies on an external configuration.

If you want to protect your script from such inadvertent change or if you want to make the script portable, you should isolate its configuration from graphical mode explicitly.

The best way to do that is to configure all the options you need using script commands only (option command, switches of other commands, session URL), or if no such command is available, using raw site settings and raw configuration. Finally force scripting mode to start with the default configuration using /ini=nul command-line parameter.

Alternatively export your configuration to a separate INI file and reference it using /ini= command-line parameter. Also consider setting the INI file read-only, to prevent WinSCP writing to it, when exiting. Particularly, if you are running multiple scripts in parallel, to prevent different instances of WinSCP trying to write it at the same time.

Generating Script

You can have WinSCP generate a script template for you.



In the example below, WinSCP connects to server with account user, downloads file and closes the session. Then it connects to the same server with the account user2 and uploads the file back.

# Connect
open s -hostkey="ssh-rsa 2048 xxxxxxxxxxx..."
# Change remote directory
cd /home/user
# Download file to the local directory d:\
get examplefile.txt d:\
# Disconnect
# Connect as a different user
open s
# Change the remote directory
cd /home/user2
# Upload the file to current working directory
put d:\examplefile.txt 
# Disconnect
# Exit WinSCP

Save the script to the file example.txt. To execute the script file use the following command. /ini=nul /script=example.txt

For simple scripts you can specify all the commands on command-line using /command switch: /ini=nul /command "open s -hostkey=""ssh-rsa 2048 xxxxxxxxxxx...""" "get examplefile.txt d:\" "exit"

In Windows batch file, you can use ^ to split too long command-line to separate lines by escaping following new-line character: /ini=nul /command ^
    "open s -hostkey=""ssh-rsa 2048 xxxxxxxxxxx...""" ^
    "get examplefile.txt d:\" ^

See other useful example scripts.

Converting Script to Code Based on .NET Assembly

When you find yourself limited by scripting capabilities, you may consider converting your script to code that uses WinSCP .NET assembly.

Further Reading


  1. Generally do surround reference by double-quotes to cope properly with spaces in its value.Back
  2. This is important particularly for FTP sessions.Back

Last modified: by martin