HowTo: Create Files in Linux From a Bash Shell Prompt

by on October 16, 2007 · 42 comments· LAST UPDATED September 19, 2013

in , ,

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:

Tutorial details
DifficultyEasy (rss)
Root privilegesNo
Estimated completion time5m
  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.
Tweet itFacebook itG+ itDownload PDF versionFound an error/typo on this page?

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pafcio October 18, 2007 at 9:58 am

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


2 amit October 12, 2013 at 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.


3 nixCraft October 18, 2007 at 8:09 pm


thanks for pointing out touch command!


4 Mohan October 18, 2007 at 11:46 pm

echo ‘ This is a multiline

text file created

from the bash shell

using echo command’ > multiline.txt


5 shankar August 26, 2011 at 9:39 am

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


6 maxwell September 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm

$ cat foot.txt


7 ganni October 29, 2007 at 8:30 am

Thanks a lot! It helps me.

Thank you very much! all of you


8 Kaka November 16, 2007 at 5:42 pm

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



9 Nitish December 4, 2007 at 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


10 amit nehra December 6, 2007 at 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


11 Nitish Anand December 23, 2007 at 12:36 pm

Have u tried using:-

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


12 chakjoy February 24, 2008 at 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.



13 musteah October 5, 2010 at 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.


14 Nitish Anand March 27, 2008 at 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!


15 Jaime June 10, 2008 at 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


16 jakemanse June 16, 2009 at 7:25 am

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


17 Mithat Perkoz September 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm

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


18 pratheesh November 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm

how to chkdsk in linux cmd mode


19 pratheesh November 10, 2009 at 12:39 pm

how to check in all disk drive in linux command mode


20 pratheesh November 10, 2009 at 12:41 pm

how to install other software in linux command mode


21 srividya July 1, 2010 at 4:56 am

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


22 srividya July 1, 2010 at 4:58 am

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


23 srividya July 1, 2010 at 5:00 am

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


24 Vidar 75 August 1, 2010 at 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


25 Suresh August 11, 2010 at 4:40 pm

What is the main difference between touch & vi commnd?


26 vr4sk December 7, 2010 at 9:58 am

Could someone help me understand what this means?

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


27 superking February 23, 2011 at 8:37 am

good job !!!


28 vijay March 21, 2011 at 6:33 am

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


29 Ryan July 26, 2011 at 6:39 pm

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


30 siddharth December 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm

hi guyz,

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

Please help.


31 Phearret June 10, 2012 at 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.


32 LAsitha June 14, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Nice job.. thanxxx… :D


33 tot July 4, 2012 at 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..


34 shivdas December 19, 2013 at 6:32 am

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


35 Dipti Das July 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

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


36 riten January 8, 2013 at 11:11 am

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


37 masoud January 26, 2013 at 6:46 pm

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


38 Salem January 27, 2013 at 9:18 pm

How do you edit the file you created ?


39 nixCraft October 6, 2013 at 8:45 am

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


40 Ray September 19, 2013 at 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.


41 nixCraft September 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for the heads up!


42 Sabit Mubarik March 5, 2015 at 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


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