LINUX CLASSES - FILES
How Do I Display the Contents of a Linux File?
Displaying File Contents
You know how to get a list of files. But what if you want to take a peek at a file's contents? Several commands, including cat,
more, and less, can be used to display files. Let's see how they work in this example:
$ cat pig_info
Pigs make great pets, but they are not dogs or cats. Maybe
somewhere in between. I tend to believe that they have more
personality. They do require significant amounts of attention,
love, and scratches. But they aren't always snuggly in return.
The cat command (short for concatenate) shown in this example is like the DOS type command. In response to the command
cat pig_info, the system simply splatters the file on the screen. If there is more data in the file than will fit on one screen, the
contents whiz by before you can see it. The more command solves this problem by displaying the file screen by screen:
$ more dog_info
Affectionately known as the "Toller," the Nova Scotian Duck
Tolling Retriever was once called the Little River Duck Dog,
since it was developed in the Little River district of Yarmouth
County, Nova Scotia. This engaging dog is a specialist with
waterfowl. Tolling, or luring, is the practice of tricking ducks
into gunshot range. Hunters had long observed this behavior
The more command pauses when the screen fills up and waits for you to press the spacebar before it rolls out another screenful of
text. A legend at the bottom of the screen tells you what percentage of the file has been displayed so far.
The less command works like more except that it lets you move both forward and backward in the file while the command is
running--use the B key on your keyboard to back up one screen and the spacebar to move forward and show the next screen.
You can press Q to quit the
Although all of these commands will let you view the contents of a file in different ways, none allow you to change the data in the
file. If you want to view and update a file, use one of the text editors discussed in the "Text Editors" section.
For more information on the cat command, see the
cat manual. (If you're not interested in cats, see the
Previous Lesson: Listing Linux Files
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Comments - most recent first
(Please feel free to answer questions posted by others!)
(27 Aug 2013, 21:42
How do you display the contents of a file in real time on Linux please?
(02 Aug 2013, 20:35
Hello! I really liked your forum, especially this section. I just signed up
and immediately decided to introduce myself, if I'm wrong section, ask the
moderators to move the topic to the right place, hopefully it will take me
well... My name is Viktor, me 34 years, humourist and serious man in one
person. Ssory for my English.
(27 Feb 2012, 16:27
@Ramy - Press q to end the less or more command.
Ramy Al Zuhouri
(27 Feb 2012, 15:10
A problem is that when I use less command to display a file, when I reach
the end a line appears: "END", and I can't use the terminal tab to type
other commands.I have to open a new tab.
There's a way to break? Neither with ctrl-c works.
(05 Feb 2012, 14:45
Thanks its short and understandable notes for
new in linux and want to learn. Nice job for us.
i give you thank from all who use this site.
(15 Jan 2012, 17:10
Bob, Thank you for putting in the hard work, time, and effort. I want you
to know that it is greatly appreciated. Comprehension is awesome and should
ever put out a book please notify me and I will put my money where my mouth
is and purchase it !
Once again Thank you.
(10 Jul 2011, 23:23
Awesome site!!Linux is great and u have written a lovely site for it.Easy
to understand.Keep the good work.
(11 Mar 2011, 01:20
This site helped me a lot. Thanks for nice documentation. Keep doing good
(11 Feb 2011, 01:13
I want to know how to access the bin directory and can you briefly
explain how to remove files from bin directory and what are all commands
used to view the bin directories.
(24 Nov 2010, 08:30
i want to display the content of my flash drive through linux fedora
command .so what is the command for this , thank u
(21 Sep 2010, 04:36
Thanks for helpful site!
(02 Jun 2010, 06:42
Look for the Linux Editors section to your left.
(02 Jun 2010, 00:46
where's the text editor?
(18 Mar 2010, 20:50
Sorry, it's only available on the website.
(18 Mar 2010, 15:19
Hello Bob, IŽam from venezuela and I want to ask you if you have your low
fat linux paper in pdf format and if is possible, that can I have it?
In advance tanks
I welcome your comments. However... I am puzzled by many people
who say "Please send me the Linux tutorial." This website *is* your Linux Tutorial! Read everything here, learn
all you can, ask questions if you like. But don't ask me to send what you already have. :-)
NO SPAM! If you post garbage, it will be deleted, and you will be banned.