Obtain a std::ostream either from std::cout or std::ofstream(file)

std::streambuf * buf;
std::ofstream of;

if(!condition) {
    buf = of.rdbuf();
} else {
    buf = std::cout.rdbuf();

std::ostream out(buf);

That associates the underlying streambuf of either cout or the output file stream to out. After that you can write to “out” and it will end up in the right destination. If you just want that everything going to std::cout goes into a file, you can aswell do

std::ofstream file("file.txt");
std::streambuf * old = std::cout.rdbuf(file.rdbuf());
// do here output to std::cout
std::cout.rdbuf(old); // restore

This second method has the drawback that it’s not exception safe. You possibly want to write a class that does this using RAII:

struct opiped {
    opiped(std::streambuf * buf, std::ostream & os)
    :os(os), old_buf(os.rdbuf(buf)) { }
    ~opiped() { os.rdbuf(old_buf); }

    std::ostream& os;
    std::streambuf * old_buf;

int main() {
    // or: std::filebuf of; 
    //     of.open("file.txt", std::ios_base::out);
    std::ofstream of("file.txt");
        // or: opiped raii(&of, std::cout);
        opiped raii(of.rdbuf(), std::cout);
        std::cout << "going into file" << std::endl;
    std::cout << "going on screen" << std::endl;

Now, whatever happens, std::cout is in clean state.

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