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HowTo: Create Files in Linux From a Bash Shell Prompt

I'm a new to CentOS Linux user. How do I create a file from bash prompt without using GUI tools?

Linux / UNIX like operating system offers many command line tools and text editors for creating text files. You can use vi or joe text editor. It is a terminal-based text editor for Linux/Unix like systems, available under the GPL. It is designed to be easy to use. In short, you can use any one of the following tool:

  1. cat command
  2. echo or printf command
  3. vi text editor
  4. joe text editor
  5. Any other console based text editor

Create a Text File using cat command

To create a text file called foo.txt, enter:
$ cat > foo.txt

This is a test.
Hello world!
press CTRL+D to save file

To display file contents, type:
$ cat foo.txt

Create a text file using echo or printf

To create a file called foo.txt, enter:

echo 'This is a test' > foo.txt


printf 'This is a test\n' > foo.txt


printf 'This is a test\n Another line' > foo.txt

To display file contents, type:
$ cat foo.txt

Create a Text File using joe text editor

JOE is text editor. To create a file called foo.txt, type:
$ joe -help foo.txt
You will see help menu on screen. Next type something. To save the file and leave joe, by typing ^KX (press CTRL+K+X).

Create a Text File using vi / vim text editor

vi / vim is another text editor. To create a file called bar.txt, type:
$ vi bar.txt
Press 'i' to insert new text. To save the file and leave vi, type ESC+:+x (press ESC key, type : followed by x and [enter] key).

Further readings
  • Learn more about joe here : Introduction to the Joe Text Editor
  • Learn more about vi here : Download mastering the VI editor pdf version.

{ 44 comments… add one }

  • Pafcio October 18, 2007, 9:58 am

    You can also use touch command to create empty files:
    touch foobar.txt

    • amit October 12, 2013, 7:47 am

      basically i m beginner could please give me any links or book to understand linux architecture, well i m also confused in using linux commands since there r so many option is there any web which explains how to use linux commands
      thanks in advance.

  • nixCraft October 18, 2007, 8:09 pm


    thanks for pointing out touch command!

  • Mohan October 18, 2007, 11:46 pm

    echo ‘ This is a multiline

    text file created

    from the bash shell

    using echo command’ > multiline.txt

    • shankar August 26, 2011, 9:39 am

      i want create a text file. pls could you help me…

      • maxwell September 22, 2011, 2:24 pm

        $ cat foot.txt

  • ganni October 29, 2007, 8:30 am

    Thanks a lot! It helps me.

    Thank you very much! all of you

  • Kaka November 16, 2007, 5:42 pm

    Excellent, cause I just used it at work, and it worked and helped me.


  • Nitish December 4, 2007, 3:48 pm

    Detailed information but would appreciate if someone can upload the solution for cat command as in executing or running the vi program. I am writing a finction in the vi and want to execute it outside the vi on the bash shell.

    Thx- Nitish Anand

  • amit nehra December 6, 2007, 2:12 am

    thanks guys. i do try cat, it works perfectly.
    but in vi mode i’m not able to save & exit the file. i had to exit using ctrl+z & the file was not saved.
    please help me. mail on nehra13@gmail.com

  • Nitish Anand December 23, 2007, 12:36 pm

    Have u tried using:-

    !wq for save and exit VI
    !w to just exit.

  • chakjoy February 24, 2008, 3:35 am

    have two files, ‘file1’ and ‘file2’.
    file1 has:

    file2 has:

    would like to combine into one like:
    1234 | abcd
    4567 | efgh
    6789 | ijkl

    Please give direction.


    • musteah October 5, 2010, 1:19 pm


      here is an solution. Using arrays:

      declare -a ARRAY1
      declare -a ARRAY2
      let count=0
      let count1=0
      while read LINE
      done < file1.txt
      while read LINE
      done < file2.txt
      for((i=0; i<${#ARRAY1[@]};i++));do
      echo "${ARRAY1[${i}]} | ${ARRAY2[${i}]}"

      I hope this help.

  • Nitish Anand March 27, 2008, 12:07 pm

    Hi chakjoy,

    Did u manage to resolve your problem? Try the folling link if thats what you meant:-



    cd /var/log && ls -al
    this switches to the /var/log directory if the directory change was sucessfuly it will then list the contents of that directory.

    You can also list the contents of a directory without leaving your current location..

    ls -al /var/log
    Would list the contents of /var/log no matter your current location in the directory tree.

    You can also use | to send the output of one command to the input of another..

    mount | column -t
    Show mount points in a column format

    ls -al | grep *.jpg
    List the contents of a directory buit only show files ending in .jpg

    ps aux | grep X11
    List processes but only show processes containing X11 > and list.txt
    Will list the contents of the /var/log directory and save it in the file list.txt

    hope this helps


    You can chain copmmands together using &&

    cd /var/log && ls -al
    this swithces to the /var/log directory if the directory change was sucessfuly it will then list the contents o fhte directory.

    just to add to that, you can likewise chain commands together with the || operator (OR operator, not to be confused with a pipe | )

    $ cd /mnt || cd /varthis would attempt to change to the /mnt directory. If it could not it would then switch to the /var directory. If the cd /mnt command was successfull then it would stop. Similarly,

    $ cd /blah || cd /homeit’s probably safe to say there is no /blah directory on your computer so typing this command would attempt to change to a non-existant directory, fail, and consequently change to /home
    have fun!

  • Jaime June 10, 2008, 6:21 am

    There is so much to learn when you get inside of linux, for example, VI is not the easier text editor but it rocks xD

  • jakemanse June 16, 2009, 7:25 am

    That’s good I am new Linuxer , now I am studying it .

  • Mithat Perkoz September 3, 2009, 2:16 pm

    Thx a lot guys.
    I am also a newbie to Linux and it helps a lot!

  • pratheesh November 10, 2009, 12:36 pm

    how to chkdsk in linux cmd mode

  • pratheesh November 10, 2009, 12:39 pm

    how to check in all disk drive in linux command mode

  • pratheesh November 10, 2009, 12:41 pm

    how to install other software in linux command mode

  • srividya July 1, 2010, 4:56 am

    please i am not able to understand to do program with echo command. please tell mr steps from starting….

  • srividya July 1, 2010, 4:58 am

    how to save lines in a file? how to execute ?

  • srividya July 1, 2010, 5:00 am

    how to save lines in a file at unix? how to execute?

  • Vidar 75 August 1, 2010, 8:25 pm

    Just $ > filename will do the same, manily creating a empty file named “filename”

    Go ahead type “> test” and see for your self

  • Suresh August 11, 2010, 4:40 pm

    What is the main difference between touch & vi commnd?

  • vr4sk December 7, 2010, 9:58 am

    Could someone help me understand what this means?

    Save the information that you have read from the keyboard into a file

  • superking February 23, 2011, 8:37 am

    good job !!!

  • vijay March 21, 2011, 6:33 am

    how to search the empty file in linux …
    For that which command use ???
    please tell me …. help me …..

  • Ryan July 26, 2011, 6:39 pm

    Perhaps a subliminal mistake, looks like you used ‘cat foot.txt’ instead of ‘cat foo.txt’ in your example.

  • siddharth December 5, 2011, 4:54 pm

    hi guyz,

    mu /dev/hdc had 2.7 G and its now 100%. Need to clear it.

    Please help.

  • Phearret June 10, 2012, 12:41 am

    I am trying to maintain a list of “ROMS” be it NDS, or MAME, no matter.
    Instead of accessing each page on a website, is it possible to use cat to look for say; title” … ” within .aspx on the website and copy it to local txt file ? I have been using ..
    cat wordlist/* | tr -cs A-Za-z ’12’ | tr A-Z a-z | sort | uniq > wordlist/masterlist.txt to merge numerous txt files into one, have them sort, and no repeats. something like this to be able to input the website start & end page and where to save the roms list.. there doesn’t really seem to be any 1 site that has a complete & accurate list. I an not trying to circumvent anything to get to the roms, I merely wish to be able to goto a webpage, enter in the variables, run a script to gather the list from the site, then after I have done this to a few sites run the above quoted, to merge the different sites into 1 ( hopefully ) accurate list so I know the names & numbers of the roms for each list.

  • LAsitha June 14, 2012, 4:10 pm

    Nice job.. thanxxx… :D

  • tot July 4, 2012, 12:22 pm

    hey guys, how can I concatenate an echo command & DATE to only one line ..

    echo “The date is: ” && date >> file.txt

    but this command will display text “The date is: ” and insert the date into the file.txt

    the output I want is

    “The date is 07-12-12.”

    to the file.txt

    help pls..

    • shivdas December 19, 2013, 6:32 am

      echo `echo The date is: && date` >> file.txt

  • Dipti Das July 27, 2012, 12:11 pm

    Very helpful steps for a fresher in C/C++

  • riten January 8, 2013, 11:11 am

    pls send me how to create log file(tape wirrten is normal file, normal file format only not tar file format)

  • masoud January 26, 2013, 6:46 pm

    i want create “example.com” file in this dir:
    plz help me…

  • Salem January 27, 2013, 9:18 pm

    How do you edit the file you created ?

    • nixCraft October 6, 2013, 8:45 am

      Use a text editor such as vi/emacs/joe and more.

  • Ray September 19, 2013, 8:11 pm

    Great, but I found a typo:

    To display file contents, type
    $ cat foot.txt

    It should be foo.txt not foot.txt.

  • Sabit Mubarik March 5, 2015, 1:12 pm

    I am doing with my BS Computer Science, I am provided with a project to make a

    A_primitive linux shell using terminal of Ubuntu or GNU (GCC) compiler and in it i have to set up a shell environment to use the following commands
    1 cd
    2 ls
    3 pwd
    4 pop
    5 push

    B_ using any technique within this file system to make a single file password protected.

    Noted: Can’t use ‘system’ or ‘exe’ command but can use libC and its assorted libraries also can use dirent.h,ctype.h.
    please please please help me with this having said that i have to submit it on monday 9th March,2015

  • M.kabir rahimi May 4, 2015, 3:30 pm

    how we can create html file automatically in linux

  • Ngeshlew October 28, 2015, 2:50 pm

    Hi Vivek,

    Thank you for the post. It keeps me coming back because it is easy and very direct.

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