14.5. strcpy(), strncpy()

Copy a string


#include <string.h>

char *strcpy(char *dest, char *src);
char *strncpy(char *dest, char *src, size_t n);


These functions copy a string from one address to another, stopping at the NUL terminator on the srcstring.

strncpy() is just like strcpy(), except only the first n characters are actually copied. Beware that if you hit the limit, n before you get a NUL terminator on the src string, your dest string won't be NUL-terminated. Beware! BEWARE!

(If the src string has fewer than n characters, it works just like strcpy().)

You can terminate the string yourself by sticking the '\0' in there yourself:

char s[10];
char foo = "My hovercraft is full of eels."; // more than 10 chars

strncpy(s, foo, 9); // only copy 9 chars into positions 0-8
s[9] = '\0';        // position 9 gets the terminator

Return Value

Both functions return dest for your convenience, at no extra charge.


char *src = "hockey hockey hockey hockey hockey hockey hockey hockey";
char dest[20];

int len;

strcpy(dest, "I like "); // dest is now "I like "

len = strlen(dest);

// tricky, but let's use some pointer arithmetic and math to append
// as much of src as possible onto the end of dest, -1 on the length to
// leave room for the terminator:
strncpy(dest+len, src, sizeof(dest)-len-1);

// remember that sizeof() returns the size of the array in bytes
// and a char is a byte:
dest[sizeof(dest)-1] = '\0'; // terminate

// dest is now:       v null terminator
// I like hockey hocke 
// 01234567890123456789012345

See Also

memcpy(), strcat(), strncat()