Linux And Unix Command To View File

by on April 17, 2014 · 3 comments· LAST UPDATED April 17, 2014

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I am a new Linux bash shell command line user. How can I view a text file using command line on a Linux or Unix-like operating systems? How can I view (open) binary files such as PDF or images on a Linux or Unix like system from command line?

You can use any one of the following command to view a text file or any other files such as PDF, doc, image, video, music/mp3 and more.

Tutorial details
DifficultyEasy (rss)
Root privilegesNo
Estimated completion timeN/A
  • cat command
  • less command
  • more command
  • gnome-open command or xdg-open command (generic version) or kde-open command (kde version) - Linux gnome/kde desktop command to open any file.
  • open command - OS X specific command to open any file.

View a text file called foo.txt on a Linux or Unix-like systems

Open the Terminal application and type the following command to view a text file called foo.txt using cat command:

cat foo.txt


cat /etc/resolv.conf

Sample outputs:


You can also use more or less command as follows:

less filename
more filename-here

gnome-open: Open files and directories/urls

The gnome-open command opens a file (or a directory or URL), just as if you had double-clicked the file's icon. The syntax is:

gnome-open file.pdf
gnome-open sai-ram-bhjan.mp3
gnome-open mars-video.mp4

See our faq "Open Gnome Nautilus File Manager For The Current Linux / Unix Command Line" for more information.

If you are using KDE desktop try kde-open command as follows:

kde-open file.pdf
kde-open sai-ram-bhjan.mp3
kde-open mars-video.mp4

Another option is to try out xdg-open command on Linux and Unix desktop:

xdg-open file.pdf
xdg-open sai-ram-bhjan.mp3
xdg-open mars-video.mp4

If you are using OS X Unix try open command as follows:

open file.pdf
open sai-ram-bhjan.mp3
open mars-video.mp4
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 venureddy April 28, 2014 at 11:17 am

Good Stuff


2 Steve DenHerder May 15, 2014 at 5:16 am

Sometimes the ‘ strings ‘ command is useful if the file is not all text. I seems to pull out text but leave the no text out.


3 Mark Kenny June 4, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Don’t forget: tac

Although I’ve yet to find a useful purpose for it


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