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Copy plot or graphics content to clipboard

Since R2020a



copygraphics(obj) copies the content of the graphics object specified by obj to the system clipboard. The graphics object can be any type of axes, a figure, a standalone visualization, a tiled chart layout, or a container within a figure. The clipboard content is available for pasting into other applications and documents.


copygraphics(obj,Name,Value) specifies additional options for copying the content to the clipboard. For example, copygraphics(gca,'Resolution',300) copies the contents of the current axes to the clipboard as a 300-DPI image.


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Create a line plot and get the current axes. Then copy the contents of the axes to the clipboard.

ax = gca;

Display an image and get the current axes. Then copy the contents of the axes as a 300-DPI image.

I = imread('peppers.png');
ax = gca;

Display a plot with an annotation that extends beyond the bounds of the axes. Then copy the contents of the figure.

annotation('textarrow',[0.06 0.5],[0.73 0.5],'String','y = x ')
f = gcf;

Display a bar chart and get the current axes. Then copy the contents of the axes as a vector graphic.

bar([10 22 31 43])
ax = gca;

Display two plots in a tiled chart layout. Then copy both plots to the clipboard by passing the TiledChartLayout object to the copygraphics function.

t = tiledlayout(2,1);
plot([1 2 3])
plot([3 2 1])

If you want to copy just one of the plots, call the nexttile function with the axes return argument. Then pass the axes to the copygraphics function.

Display a heatmap chart. Then copy the chart as a vector graphic and specify a transparent background.

h = heatmap(rand(10,10));

Create a program file called copyapp.m that displays a plot and a button for copying the axes content to the clipboard. In the callback function for the button, call the copygraphics function.

function copyapp
f = uifigure;
ax = uiaxes(f,'Position',[25 25 400 375]);
plot(ax,[0 0.3 0.1 0.6 0.4 1])
b = uibutton(f,'Position',[435 200 90 30],'Text','Copy Plot');
b.ButtonPushedFcn = @buttoncallback;

    function buttoncallback(~,~)

Run the app by calling the copyapp function. When you click the Copy Plot button, the axes content is copied to the clipboard. The area surrounding the axes, including the button, is not copied.


App containing a plot and a button labeled "Copy Plot"

Input Arguments

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Graphics object, specified as one of these objects:

  • Any type of axes: an Axes, PolarAxes, or GeographicAxes object.

  • A figure created with either the figure or uifigure function.

  • A standalone visualization such as a heatmap chart.

  • A tiled chart layout, which you create with the tiledlayout function.

  • A container within a figure: a Panel, Tab, or ButtonGroup object.

Capture Area

copygraphics captures the contents of the object you specify. It does not capture UI components such as buttons or sliders.

It also does not capture adjacent containers or child containers. For example, consider a figure containing a line plot with an adjacent panel containing a heatmap:

f = figure;
ax = axes(f,'Position',[0.1 0.1 0.4 0.8]);
plot(ax,[0 1])
p = uipanel(f,'Position',[0.55 0.1 0.4 0.8]);


Figure containing a line plot with an adjacent panel containing a heatmap

In the preceding code, the first copygraphics command copies the line plot, but not the heatmap. The second copygraphics command copies the heatmap, but not the line plot.

Name-Value Arguments

Specify optional pairs of arguments as Name1=Value1,...,NameN=ValueN, where Name is the argument name and Value is the corresponding value. Name-value arguments must appear after other arguments, but the order of the pairs does not matter.

Before R2021a, use commas to separate each name and value, and enclose Name in quotes.

Example: copygraphics(gca,'Resolution',300) copies the contents of the current axes as 300-DPI image.

Type of content to copy, specified as one of these options:

  • 'auto' — MATLAB® controls whether the content is a vector graphic or an image.

  • 'vector' — Copies the content as a vector graphic that can scale to any size.

  • 'image' — Copies the content as a rasterized image.


If you specify the 'vector' option, some visualizations might contain stray lines or other artifacts.

Resolution in dots per inch (DPI), specified as a whole number that is greater than or equal to 1.

Specifying the resolution has no effect when the ContentType is 'vector'.

Data Types: single | double | int8 | int16 | int32 | int64 | uint8 | uint16 | uint32 | uint64

Background color, specified as 'current', 'none', an RGB triplet, a hexadecimal color code, or a color name. The background color controls the color of the margin that surrounds the axes or chart.

  • A value of 'current' sets the background color to the parent container's color.

  • A value of 'none' sets the background color to transparent or white, depending on the value of ContentType:

    • When ContentType='vector', the background color is transparent.

    • When ContentType='image', the background color is white.

    • When ContentType='auto', MATLAB sets the background color according to the heuristic it uses to determine the type content to copy.

  • Alternatively, specify a custom color or a named color.

Custom Colors and Named Colors

RGB triplets and hexadecimal color codes are useful for specifying custom colors.

  • An RGB triplet is a three-element row vector whose elements specify the intensities of the red, green, and blue components of the color. The intensities must be in the range [0,1]; for example, [0.4 0.6 0.7].

  • A hexadecimal color code is a character vector or a string scalar that starts with a hash symbol (#) followed by three or six hexadecimal digits, which can range from 0 to F. The values are not case sensitive. Thus, the color codes "#FF8800", "#ff8800", "#F80", and "#f80" are equivalent.

Alternatively, you can specify some common colors by name. This table lists the named color options, the equivalent RGB triplets, and hexadecimal color codes.

Color NameShort NameRGB TripletHexadecimal Color CodeAppearance
"red""r"[1 0 0]"#FF0000"

Sample of the color red

"green""g"[0 1 0]"#00FF00"

Sample of the color green

"blue""b"[0 0 1]"#0000FF"

Sample of the color blue

"cyan" "c"[0 1 1]"#00FFFF"

Sample of the color cyan

"magenta""m"[1 0 1]"#FF00FF"

Sample of the color magenta

"yellow""y"[1 1 0]"#FFFF00"

Sample of the color yellow

"black""k"[0 0 0]"#000000"

Sample of the color black

"white""w"[1 1 1]"#FFFFFF"

Sample of the color white

Here are the RGB triplets and hexadecimal color codes for the default colors MATLAB uses in many types of plots.

RGB TripletHexadecimal Color CodeAppearance
[0 0.4470 0.7410]"#0072BD"

Sample of RGB triplet [0 0.4470 0.7410], which appears as dark blue

[0.8500 0.3250 0.0980]"#D95319"

Sample of RGB triplet [0.8500 0.3250 0.0980], which appears as dark orange

[0.9290 0.6940 0.1250]"#EDB120"

Sample of RGB triplet [0.9290 0.6940 0.1250], which appears as dark yellow

[0.4940 0.1840 0.5560]"#7E2F8E"

Sample of RGB triplet [0.4940 0.1840 0.5560], which appears as dark purple

[0.4660 0.6740 0.1880]"#77AC30"

Sample of RGB triplet [0.4660 0.6740 0.1880], which appears as medium green

[0.3010 0.7450 0.9330]"#4DBEEE"

Sample of RGB triplet [0.3010 0.7450 0.9330], which appears as light blue

[0.6350 0.0780 0.1840]"#A2142F"

Sample of RGB triplet [0.6350 0.0780 0.1840], which appears as dark red

Colorspace of the saved graphic, specified as 'rgb' or 'gray'.

  • 'rgb' — Copy truecolor RGB content.

  • 'gray' — Convert the content to grayscale.


The copygraphics function is not supported in MATLAB Online™ or in web apps hosted on the MATLAB Web App Server™.

Alternative Functionality

Hovering over the Export button in the axes toolbar reveals a drop-down menu with options for exporting content:

  • : Save the content as a tightly cropped image or PDF.

  • : Copy the content as an image.

  • : Copy the content as a vector graphic.

Version History

Introduced in R2020a