ls, dir, vdir - list contents of directories


ls [-abcdefgiklmnopqrstuxABCFGLNQRSUX178] [-w cols] [-T cols] [-I pattern] [--all] [--escape] [--directory] [--inode] [--kilobytes] [--numeric-uid-gid] [--no-group] [--hide-control-chars] [--reverse] [--size] [--width=cols] [--tabsize=cols] [--almost-all] [--ignore-backups] [--classify] [--file-type] [--full-time] [--ignore=pattern] [--dereference] [--literal] [--quote-name] [--recursive] [--sort={none,time,size,extension}] [--format={long,verbose,commas,across,vertical,single-column}] [--time={atime,access,use,ctime,status}] [--color[={yes,no,tty}]] [--colour[={yes,no,tty}]] [--7bit] [--8bit] [--help] [--version] [name...]


This manual page documents the GNU version of ls , with color extensions. dir and vdir are versions of ls with different default output formats. These programs list each given file or directory name. Directory contents are sorted alphabetically. For ls , files are by default listed in columns, sorted vertically, if the standard output is a terminal; otherwise they are listed one per line. For dir , files are by default listed in columns, sorted vertically. For vdir , files are by default listed in long format.


-a, --all
List all files in directories, including all files that start with `.'.

-b, --escape
Quote nongraphic characters in file names using alphabetic and octal backslash sequences like those used in C.

-c, --time=ctime, --time=status
Sort directory contents according to the files' status change time instead of the modification time. If the long listing format is being used, print the status change time instead of the modification time.

-d, --directory
List directories like other files, rather than listing their contents.

-e, --full-time
List times in full, rather than using the standard abbreviation heuristics.

Do not sort directory contents; list them in whatever order they are stored on the disk. The same as enabling -a and -U and disabling -l, -o, -s, and -t.

Ignored; for Unix compatibility.

-i, --inode
Print the index number of each file to the left of the file name.

-k, --kilobytes
If file sizes are being listed, print them in kilobytes. This overrides the environment variable POSIXLY_CORRECT .

-l, --format=long, --format=verbose
In addition to the name of each file, print the file type, permissions, number of hard links, owner name, group name, size in bytes, and timestamp (the modification time unless other times are selected). For files with a time that is more than 6 months old or more than 1 hour into the future, the timestamp contains the year instead of the time of day.

-m, --format=commas
List files horizontally, with as many as will fit on each line, separated by commas.

-n, --numeric-uid-gid
List the numeric UID and GID instead of the names.

-o, --color, --colour, --color=yes, --colour=yes
Colorize the names of files depending on the type of file. See `DISPLAY COLORIZATION' below. Note that -o unlike --color is a toggle.

Append a character to each file name indicating the file type.

-q, --hide-control-chars
Print question marks instead of nongraphic characters in file names.

-r, --reverse
Sort directory contents in reverse order.

-s, --size
Print the size of each file in 1K blocks to the left of the file name. If the environment variable POSIXLY_CORRECT is set, 512-byte blocks are used instead.

-t, --sort=time
Sort directory contents by timestamp instead of alphabetically, with the newest files listed first.

-u, --time=atime, --time=access, --time=use
Sort directory contents according to the files' last access time instead of the modification time. If the long listing format is being used, print the last access time instead of the modification time.

-x, --format=across, --format=horizontal
List the files in columns, sorted horizontally.

-A, --almost-all
List all files in directories, except for `.' and `..'.

-B, --ignore-backups
Do not list files that end with `~', unless they are given on the command line.

-C, --format=vertical
List files in columns, sorted vertically.

-F, --classify
Append a character to each file name indicating the file type. For regular files that are executable, append a `*'. The file type indicators are `/' for directories, `@' for symbolic links, `|' for FIFOs, `=' for sockets, and nothing for regular files.

-G, --no-group
Inhibit display of group information in a long format directory listing.

-L, --dereference
List the files linked to by symbolic links instead of listing the contents of the links.

-N, --literal
Do not quote file names.

-Q, --quote-name
Enclose file names in double quotes and quote nongraphic characters as in C.

-R, --recursive
List the contents of all directories recursively.

-S, --sort=size
Sort directory contents by file size instead of alphabetically, with the largest files listed first.

-U, --sort=none
Do not sort directory contents; list them in whatever order they are stored on the disk. This option is not called -f because the Unix ls -f option also enables -a and disables -l , -s , and -t . It seems useless and ugly to group those unrelated things together in one option. Since this option doesn't do that, it has a different name.

-X, --sort=extension
Sort directory contents alphabetically by file extension (characters after the last `.'); files with no extension are sorted first.

-1, --format=single-column
List one file per line.

-7, --7bit
Treat all character outside the ASCII (ISO 646) set (0x20-0x7E) as nonprintable control characters.

-8, --8bit
Treat all characters from the 8-bit ISO 8859 character sets (0x20-0x7E, 0xA1-0xFF) as printable. This includes ASCII as a subset. This is the default unless overridden at compile time.

-w, --width cols
Assume the screen is cols columns wide. The default is taken from the terminal driver if possible; otherwise the environment variable COLUMNS is used if it is set; otherwise the default is 80.

-T, --tabsize cols
Assume that each tabstop is cols columns wide. The default is 8, or whatever the TABSIZE environment variable says. Setting the tabsize to 0 disables the use of tab characters completely.

-I, --ignore pattern
Do not list files whose names match the shell pattern pattern unless they are given on the command line. As in the shell, an initial `.' in a filename does not match a wildcard at the start of pattern.

--color=tty, --colour=tty
Same as -o but only if standard output is a terminal. This is very useful for shell scripts and command aliases, especially if your favorite pager does not support color control codes.

--color=no, --colour=no
Disables colorization. This is the default. Provided to override a previous color option.

Print a usage message on standard output and exit successfully.

Print version information on standard output then exit successfully.


When using the "-o" or "--color" options, this version of ls will colorize the file names printed according to the name and type of file. By default, this colorization is by type only, and the codes used are ISO 6429 (ANSI) compliant.

You can override the default colors by defining the environment variable LS_COLORS (or LS_COLOURS ). The format of this variable is reminicent of the termcap(5) file format; a colon-separated list of expressions of the form "xx=string", where "xx" is a two-character variable name. The variables with their associated defaults are:

    no    0       Normal (non-filename) text
    fi    0       Regular file
    di    32      Directory
    ln    36      Symbolic link
    pi    31      Named pipe (FIFO)
    so    33      Socket
    bd    44;37   Block device
    cd    44;37   Character device
    ex    35      Executable file
    mi    (none)  Missing file (defaults to fi)
    or    (none)  Orphanned symbolic link (defaults to ln)
    lc    ee[     Left code
    rc    m       Right code
    ec    (none)  End code (replaces lc+no+rc)

You only need to include the variables you want to change from the default.

File names can also be colorized based on filename extension. This is specified in the LS_COLORS variable using the syntax "*ext=string". For example, using ISO 6429 codes, to color all C-language source files blue you would specify "*.c=34". This would color all files ending in .c in blue (34) color.

Control characters can be written either in C-style \-escaped notation, or in stty -like ^-notation. The C-style notation adds \e for Escape, \_ for a normal space characer, and \? for Delete. In addition, the \ escape character can be used to override the default interpretation of \, ^, : and =.

Each file will be written as <lc> <color code> <rc> <filename> <ec>. If the <ec> code is undefined, the sequence <lc> <no> <rc> will be used instead. This is generally more convenient to use, but less general. The left, right and end codes are provided so you don't have to type common parts over and over again and to support weird terminals; you will generally not need to change them at all unless your terminal does not use ISO 6429 color sequences but a different system.

If your terminal does use ISO 6429 color codes, you can compose the type codes (i.e. all except the lc , rc , and ec codes) from numerical commands separated by semicolons. The most common commands are:

     0      to restore default color
     1      for brighter colors 
     4      for underlined text
     5      for flashing text
    30      for black foreground
    31      for red foreground
    32      for green foreground
    33      for yellow (or brown) foreground
    34      for blue foreground
    35      for purple foreground
    36      for cyan foreground
    37      for white (or gray) foreground
    40      for black background
    41      for red background
    42      for green background
    43      for yellow (or brown) background
    44      for blue background
    45      for purple background
    46      for cyan background
    47      for white (or gray) background

Not all commands will work on all systems or display devices.

A few terminal programs do not recognize the default end code properly. If all text gets colorized after you do a directory listing, try changing the no and fi codes from 0 to the numerical codes for your standard fore- and background colors.


On BSD systems, the -s option reports sizes that are half the correct values for files that are NFS-mounted from HP-UX systems. On HP-UX systems, it reports sizes that are twice the correct values for files that are NFS-mounted from BSD systems. This is due to a flaw in HP-UX; it also affects the HP-UX ls program.

Character set selection should be more system independent.

Using the colorization options disables the use of the tab character for column spacing unless the -T option is used; apparently some systems do not like tabs and color codes in conjunction.

If there was a single standard for the English language it would not be necessary to support redundant spellings.