Viktor Rognås

My journey as a PhD student in Pharmacometrics. Personal opinions and hypotheses. ☁

Cheat for the command line!

Published June 8, 2020

When you start out using the command line, you will notice that there are many small and handy programs (also referred to as “commands”) you can run. You might start out using pwd (for “print working directory”), which will tell you what directory you are currently in. Then you might use programs such as ls to “list” the contents of a directory, and you might use cd to “change directory” to another directory you might want to go to.

Well there are obviously many many more programs like this, and to know more about them the most important command to know about is the command man (for “manual”). If you run e.g. man pwd, you will get to the manual page for the pwd command which will tell you most things there are to know about the pwd command.

Now, this particular man page is not that lengthy, but what if you run man ls, or what about man ffmpeg (ffmpeg deals with multimedia conversion)? Now that’s quite some documentation to go through!

A quicker way to just get the gist of a command can be accessed via (it is a web site on it’s own, go check it out). You can also access on the command line via curl (or even curl!). To get the gist of a command, just type: curl, and you will get the gist of the ls command! Replace ls with any command you like.

Another way I prefer is to use the tldr command, which in essence is the same as in that it is a community-driven manual. However, I have found that tldr gives a bit more relevant information for macOS which is the OS I am using as my daily driver. The tldr program does not come pre-installed but you can find the installation information here:

If you are on macOS you can install it with brew install tldr.

To use tldr, just type tldr ls in your terminal, replace ls with the command you would like to know about.