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15 Linux LS Commands You Need to Know

15 Linux LS Commands You Need to Know

By Yashdeep Raj •  2021-01-12T03:24:13.595Z •  Unix & Linux


You can use Linux ls commands to print out directory contents. It’s one of the most basic terminal commands in Linux. Thus, a thorough understanding of it is essential for navigating your way around the terminal. Listed below are some useful examples of using the ls utility. Bookmark this as a reference point for the future.

1. Display Directory Contents

By default, the ls command displays a list of files and directories present in the current directory. You can also specify the directories using their relative or absolute path.

2. Display Additional Information

You can display any additional information about a folder’s contents using the long listing format. Simply add the -l option to your standard ls to enable long format output.

The output contains Linux file permissions, link count, owner and group information, file size, last modification time, etc.

Ls Command Long Output

3. Display Hidden Files

Hidden files in Linux start with a dot “.” symbol. The default command does not display these hidden files. However, you can easily view them by using the -a or --all option.

4. Classify Directory Contents

The -F option of ls allows you to classify directory contents based on their type. It appends one of the characters from the set */=>@|.

Directories are represented by /, executables by *, symbolic links by @, and so on.

5. Display Filesizes

If you want to view the filesizes only, use the -s or --size option. Note that the size information is displayed in blocks, the same as Linux du commands.

Ls Command Displaying Size

6. Display Human Readable Filesizes

Both standard ls and the ls -s command prints the filesize in blocks. Add the -h option to display this information in a human-readable format.

7. Sort Output by Modification Time

You can use the -t option of ls to sort directory contents based on the latest modification time. Add the -l flag to retrieve more information.

8. Sort Output by Size

Use the -S option of ls for sorting the output by their respective sizes.

9. Display Files Using Patterns

You can use bash wildcards with ls commands for displaying files based on a pattern. For example, the following command displays only mp3 files.

Ls Command Using Patterns

10. Hide Files Using Patterns

We can also hide files or directories based on a predefined pattern. The following examples display all files except for mp3 tracks.

11. Display UID and GID

Linux systems use UID (User Identifier) and GID (Group Identifier) for identifying users and groups. You can display this information for all your files using the options -n or --numeric-uid-gid.

12. Display Subdirectory Contents

By default, ls doesn’t display contents that are stored inside subdirectories. However, you can use the -R or --recursive option to override this. The below example showcases this.

13. Display Directories Only

You can use the -d option followed by a bash pattern for viewing all sub-directories inside a folder.

Ls Command Displaying Directories

14. Display Help Page

The help page of ls contains summarized information on all available options. Use this whenever you need to find out a specific option.

15. Display Manual Page

You can consult the man page to find out detailed instructions on all ls options and how to use them.

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