Basic UNIX File and Directory Commands

The following is a list of common UNIX commands. There may be some differences between shells. Many commands take further parameters and options not listed here.


Lists the files in the current directory or another directory. Examples:

ls         list files in current directory

ls –a   list files in the current directory plus hidden files

ls tempdir  list files in the directory temp


Changes directories. Example:

cd tempdir  changes to the directory temp

cd ..  changes to the parent directory above the current one

cd   returns to your home directory

mkdir or md

Creates a new directory. Example:

md tempdir   creates a new directory named temp

rmdir or rd

Removes (deletes) a directory. The directory must be empty. Example:

rd tempdir   deletes the directory temp


Removes (deletes) a file. Example:

rm tempfile   deletes the file tempfile


Copies a file to another file or to a directory. The file name can include path information. Examples:

cp tempfile1 tempfile2

cp tempfile tempdir


Renames as well as moves files and directories. Examples:

mv tempfile1 tempfile2  renames the file tempfile1 to tempfile2

mv tempfile1 tempdir  moves the file tempfile to the directory tempdir

mv tempdir1 tempdir2  renames the directory tempdir1 to tempdir2


Display a file to the screen one screen’s worth at a time; use the spacebar for another screen’s worth or q to quit. Example:

more tempfile  displays the file tempfile to the screen


Stands for present working directory; displays the full path and name of the current



Searches for words or patterns in files.

The general format is:

grep <search string> <file(s)>   

This is a case sensitive command. Examples:

grep  hello  myfile   Searches for and finds both hello and Hello in the file myfile

grep –i  hello myfile  Searches for and finds hello but not Hello in the file myfile


Stands for manual and is the utility that returns information about using a command. Example:

man cd    returns information about using the command cd.


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Article ID: 84863
Tue 8/13/19 9:29 PM
Tue 8/13/19 9:31 PM