Linux / Unix: curl Command Download File Example

by on July 10, 2012 · 4 comments· LAST UPDATED July 10, 2012


I know how to use wget command to grab files. But, how do you download file using curl command line under Linux / Mac OS X / BSD or Unix like operating systems?

GNU wget is a free utility for non-interactive download of files from the Web. curl is another tool to transfer data from or to a server, using one of the supported protocols such as HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, FTPS, SCP, SFTP, TFTP, DICT, TELNET, LDAP or FILE). The command is designed to work without user interaction. curl offers many features such as:

  1. Proxy support.
  2. User authentication.
  3. FTP upload.
  4. HTTP post.
  5. SSL connections.
  6. Cookies.
  7. File transfer resume and more.

curl download file

The syntax is as follows to grab (download) files from remote http/ftp server:

curl -o output.file


curl -O


curl --remote-name

You can download a web page and store in a local file as follows:

curl -o nixcraft.html

You can grab or download multiple files as follows:

curl -O -O

curl download file from an ssh server

You can grab file securely using from an SSH server using SFTP:

curl -u username s

OR (note ~ means your $HOME)

curl -u vivek s

You can grab a file from an SSH server using SCP using a private key to authenticate. The syntax is:

curl -u username: --key ~/.ssh/id_rsa --pubkey ~/.ssh/ scp://


  • -u username - Specify the user name (and optional password) to use for server authentication.
  • -u username:password - Specify the user name (and optional password) to use for server authentication.
  • --key ~/.ssh/id_rsa - SSL or SSH private key file name. Allows you to provide your private key in this separate file.
  • --pubkey ~/.ssh/ - SSH Public key file name. Allows you to provide your public key in this separate file.
  • scp:// - Use scp protocol and download file from my home server called

Curl: Download a file using username and password

The syntax is as follows to grab a file using ftp username and password:



curl -u UserName:PassWord

Secure ftp user (ftp with ssl) can pass the --ftp-ssl option to curl command:

curl --ftp-ssl -u UserName:PassWord

HTTP authentication

HTTP user can use the following syntax:



curl -u Username:Password

Check out related media:

See also:
  • man page curl
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fo July 19, 2012 at 7:13 am

Why the hell would one use curl to do scp, when “scp” exists and is the direct tool?

copy from remote host to “here”
scp . <– note the "."

copy from "here" to remote host:
scp file

pub key authentication is automatic if there is a key that is acceptable to the server in your .ssh directory.


2 Kikko July 30, 2012 at 9:14 am

…just for the sake of argument? :)


3 Will August 2, 2012 at 1:44 am

A developer can include libcurl and get the ability to scp, http get, etc in their application all in one shot. Or if you are building an embedded system you can get a wide range of capabilities out of one tool which can be very valuable.


4 sami September 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm

i have a problem downloading pdf files using curl command from for the document with an id such as PMC3516508, i used the following command:

but i don’t get the pdf file for the document.


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