file command determines the file type of a file. It reports the file type in human readable format (e.g. ‘ASCII text’) or MIME type (e.g. ‘text/plain; charset=us-ascii’). As filenames in UNIX can be entirely independent of file type
file can be a useful command to determine how to view or work with a file.
To determine the file type of a file pass the name of a file to the
file command.The file name along with the file type will be printed to standard output.
file file.txt file.txt: ASCII text
To show just the file type pass the
file -b file.txt ASCII text
file command can be useful as filenames in UNIX bear no relation to their file type. So a file called
somefile.csv could actually be a zip file. This can be verified by the
file somefile.csv somefile.csv: Zip archive data, at least v2.0 to extract
file command can also operate on multiple files and will output a separate line to standard output for each file.
file unix-*.md unix-cat.md: ASCII text, with very long lines unix-comm.md: ASCII text, with very long lines unix-cut.md: UTF-8 Unicode text unix-exit-status.md: ASCII text unix-file.md: ASCII text, with very long lines
To view the mime type of a file rather than the human readable format pass the
file -i file.txt file.txt: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
This can be combined with the
-b option to just show the mime type.
file -i -b file.txt text/plain; charset=us-ascii
To view compressed files without decompressing them pass the
-z option. In the following example a file
foo.txt.gz is a gzip compressed ASCII text file.
file -z bar.txt.gz bar.txt.gz: ASCII text (gzip compressed data, was "bar.txt", last modified: Wed Sep 7 19:31:23 2016, from Unix)
Have an update or suggestion for this article? You can edit it here and send me a pull request.
Listening to BBC Radio with mpv
The BBC publishes high quality 320 kbps HLS AAC streams that can be used to listen to radio from the command-line using mpv. Here are the URLs and some aliases to start listening quickly.
Vim: So long Pathogen, hello native package loading
Vim 8 added a native way to load third-party packages. This means, for me at least, there is no longer any need to use a third party plugin helper like Pathogen.
Linux and Unix more command tutorial with examples
Tutorial on using more, a UNIX and Linux command for viewing the contents of a file or files one screen at a time. Examples of viewing a file, viewing multiple files, searching using regular expressions and opening the file in a text editor.