Utility: Copy Files

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015.3

Copy files from a source folder to a target folder using match patterns.




Argument Description
Source Folder

Folder that contains the files you want to copy. If you leave it empty, the copying is done from the root folder of the repo (same as if you had specified $(Build.SourcesDirectory)).

If your build produces artifacts outside of the sources directory, specify $(Agent.BuildDirectory) to copy files from the directory created for the definition.


Specify match pattern filters (one on each line) that you want to apply to the list of files to be copied. For example:

  • * copies all files in the root folder.
  • **\* copies all files in the root folder and all files in all sub-folders.
  • **\bin\** copies all files recursively from any bin folder.

The pattern is used to match only file paths, not folder paths. So you should specify patterns such as **\bin\** instead of of **\bin.

More examples are shown below.

Target Folder Folder where the files will be copied. In most cases you specify this folder using a variable. For example, specify $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory) if you intend to publish the files as build artifacts.
Clean Target Folder Select this check box to delete all existing files in the target folder before beginning to copy.
Over Write Select this check box to replace existing files in the target folder.
Control options


Copy executables and a readme file


You want to copy just the readme and the files needed to run this C# console app:

`-- ConsoleApplication1
    |-- ConsoleApplication1.sln
    |-- readme.txt
    `-- ClassLibrary1
        |-- ClassLibrary1.csproj
    `-- ClassLibrary2
        |-- ClassLibrary2.csproj
    `-- ConsoleApplication1
        |-- ConsoleApplication1.csproj

On the Variables tab, $(BuildConfiguration) is set to release.


  • Source Folder: $(Build.SourcesDirectory)

  • Contents (example of multiple match patterns):

  • Contents (example of OR condition):

  • Contents (example of NOT condition):

  • Target Folder: $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)


These files are copied to the staging directory:

`-- ConsoleApplication1
    |-- readme.txt
    `-- ConsoleApplication1
        `-- bin
            `-- Release
                | -- ClassLibrary1.dll
                | -- ClassLibrary2.dll
                | -- ConsoleApplication1.exe

Q & A

Where can I learn more about file matching patterns?

File matching patterns reference

How do I use this task to publish artifacts?

See Artifacts in Team Build.

Q: I'm having problems. How can I troubleshoot them?

A: Try this:

  1. On the variables tab, add system.debug and set it to true. Select to allow at queue time.

  2. In the explorer tab, view your completed build and click the build step to view its output.

The control options arguments described above can also be useful when you're trying to isolate a problem.

Q: How do variables work? What variables are available for me to use in the arguments?

A: $(Build.SourcesDirectory) and $(Agent.BuildDirectory) are just a few of the variables you can use. See Variables.

Do I need an agent?

You need at least one agent to run your build or release. Get an agent.

I can't select a default agent queue and I can't queue my build or release. How do I fix this?

See queues.

I use Team Foundation Server on-premises and I don't see some of these features. Why not?

Some of these features are available only on VSTS and not yet available on-premises. Some features are available on-premises if you have upgraded to the latest version of TFS.