Linux / Unix curl Command Download File Example

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I know how to use wget command to grab files. But, how do you download file using curl command line under a 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
## ~ means your $HOME dir ##
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 and downloading files with curl

HTTP user can use the following syntax:
curl -u Username:Password

Check out related media:

See also:
  • man page curl


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

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Historical Comment Archive

5 comment

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

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